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Despite the slow start there is still hope that the leather industry will be able to meet the targets of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). There is only one year left but government officials are holding firm to their goals believing that it will still be possible to squeeze more money out of leather products. This is because Ethiopian leather still looks to have a lot of potential and as a result the government is working hard to promote it.
Leather was hampered by low market access, the global economic situation, insufficient local production and international companies not joining the market as quickly as people had hoped.
Yet one of those factors is about to change as large companies are finally entering the market.
“We now have big international companies that can make a difference in the performance of exports. If they were here at the beginning of the GTP we would have been on track to meet our goals,” Wendu Legesse, director general of Leather Industry Development Institute (LIDI) said.
“We are set to meet the USD 500 million export goal in the coming year,” the director general told Capital.
Currently, several big international companies like Huajian Group and George Shoe, footwear manufacturers have established investments here and other promising companies are expected to begin production and exporting products.
“This is a lot of hope that the sector will grow despite the challenges,” an expert said.
Previously Ethiopia exported raw and semi-finished leather products but now it exports finished leather and leather goods such as gloves and shoes.
According to Wendu, footwear was USD 9 million in 2010 but is expected to reach USD 32 million in the 2013/14 budget year. Meanwhile gloves reached USD four million from zero at the beginning of the GTP.
The institute responsible for overseeing leather’s advance has been working to improve technology and human resource capacity LIDI is also working to expand the raw material supply for tanneries.
Plans are also in the works to import hides and skins from other African countries.