Christian Ewert,Director General, Foreign Trade Association (FTA) who was in Dhaka spoke to “Leather Bangladesh” on his views on Bangladesh as a sourcing destination
Q : What do you see as the strength of Bangladesh as supplier of Footwear and Leathergoods?
A : You have a dedicated, skilled, industrious, dedicated labour force. You have the labour force available in sufficient numbers.This being a labour intensive industry, that is an important starting point. I believe that the raw materials that are needed are pretty freely available. Though there are challenges on the infrastructure side, that can be overcome. If It can incentivise the developement of the support industries around the sector that will be very helpful.

Q : How would you rate the product portfolio being offered from Bangladesh?
A : I am not an expert in this context, however, to the limited extent i am aware, the portfolio is growing. PICARD is primary example of that in the area of Leathergoods and accessories. On the other side i can see leather garment sector is developing nicely. On the footwear front already 250 to 300 million pairs of shoes already being produced. I think is a very solid starting point. I believe Bangladesh has huge potential in the sports shoes segment, this should not be left as a monopoly of countries like Vietnam. I see a good opportunity here. When I look at a 2020 or 2030 horizon it is an opportunity to be taken.

Q : What more needs to be done to catch the attention of your members to bag more orders?
A : Buyers are looking for security. They are looking for a supplier base which is reliable, provide peace of mind. When the right laws and regulations are in place and there is a harmonius relationship between the private sector and the government, civil society, NGOs, trade unions which is very very important. On the other side since we have only one planet, the environmental context is increasingly important and if Bangladesh can differentiate itself positively in tackling the environmental issues that come along the leather industry, this is something which buyers would be looking at very favourably.

Q : In that context what is your view on the organising of first edition of BLLISS sourcing show?
A : I feel it is absolutely essential. I think this is an important element to share what is happening, what the private sector is planning to do and how the government is supporting it. There are issues related to topics around sustainability, so I believe the critical elements are being covered in this event.

FTA is the leading business association of global commerce that promotes the values of international trade and sustainable supply chains. FTA represents 2,000+ retailers, importers and brands to promote and defend international trade and supports their business by providing information and practical solutions towards sustainability in the global supply chain.