ISLAMABAD - Bernard Francois, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Pakistan, here on Monday addressed an Orientation Workshop held in connection with Pakistan Mega Leather Show 2015. The event was arranged by the EU funded “Pakistan Leather Competitiveness Improvement Program (PLCIP)” under European Union’s Trade Related Technical Assistance Programme. The Programme is working to improve the overall value chain in the leather product sector of Pakistan. The purpose of this Orientation Workshop was to give an introduction to Pakistan’s leather industry to the international community and donors, and to invite them for the Pakistan Mega Leather Show 2015, which is being hosted in Lahore on 6th -8th March, 2015.

“The leather sector is an important sector in Pakistan, due to its size on economic footprint, employment, and potential for value creation. Despite being an export earner, the leather sector has trivial share in global trade of value added goods and products. In wake of the current relaxation/ incentives given by the EU, which includes the GSP+ status for Pakistan, the value added leather sector needs to seize the opportunity and further develop the sector to become an even greater export earner for Pakistan. Pakistan is lagging behind other regional players, and there is an imminent need to make the leather sector more competitive in the international market’’ said Bernard Francois during his keynote speech at the ceremony.

Speaking on the event, the Project Director of PLCIP, Usman H. Malik highlighted various activities envisioned under the programme. He briefed the audience that the three-year PLCIP has been involved in supporting the leather product sector by focusing on improving productivity, shop floor management, export diversification and new market access. He highlighted that the Pakistani leather sector is a large export earner. However, the sector is not keeping up with regional competitors, and the industry has difficulties coping with the changing demands of the international market. Although Pakistan is a strong international player in the leather apparel and accessories sector (including leather clothing accessories and gloves) controlling 7.6pc of the world trade; in the footwear sector, which is 73pc of the overall global leather industry, Pakistan has only had a negligible share for the past several years. The assistance of the PLCIP will go a long way in providing technical training and knowhow to the Pakistani leather exporters to address the challenging needs of the international market.

Muhammad Musaddiq, Chairman PTA, said that The Pakistan Mega Leather Show will portray the positive image of Pakistan to the world. This event will be a good start to target the international buyers to come to Pakistan and to take benefit from the tremendous potential that exist in the leather sector of Pakistan. The show will provide a unique platform for the Pakistani leather industry, including tanners, footwear manufacturers, leather garments and gloves manufacturers, chemical companies, and other vendors supplying equipment, machinery and components to the leather industry to display their products, and provide a single platform for the Pakistani leather industry. He encouraged the diplomatic community and donors to participate in this show and invite potential stake holders/buyers from their respective countries to visit the expo.

The event was attended by representatives of European Union, Foreign Missions, Pakistan Tanners Association, Pakistan Leather Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Pakistan Footwear Association and Pakistan Gloves Manufacturers and Exporters Association and various government officials from Ministry of Commerce and Pakistan Institute of Trade and Development.