The Union government has formed a 25-member development council to build a robust supply chain for the footwear and leather industry that would make the sector competitive in both domestic and export markets, two officials familiar with the matter said.
The council is set up as per the directive of the Union minister for commerce and industry Piyush Goyal, who is taking specific measures to promote 20 sectors, including footwear, leather, furniture, agro-chemicals, ready-to-eat food, steel, textiles, electric vehicles, automobile components, sports goods, and toys, the officials said requesting anonymity.
Goyal on July 27 had said though initially, the government had initially identified 12 industrial sectors to focus upon, later they have been expanded to 20 for scaling up investments and leveraging the country’s competitive edge.
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The Development Council for Footwear and Leather industry is formed to improve competitiveness and transform the sector by supporting it through various schemes and favourable trade policies, the officials said.
The council is headed by a chairman, who is a representative of the industry. A joint secretary in the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is its member secretary and other members are drawn from various government bodies and trade, one of the officials said.
The council is represented by the Union ministry of textiles, the Director General Foreign Trade (DGFT), the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI), the Council for Leather Exports (CLE) and some leading companies, he added.
The government had constituted a similar group to promote the bicycle industry on November 15 last year.
DPIIT, which is an arm of the commerce and industry ministry, had formed the development council for bicycle for vision planning in design, engineering and manufacturing of lighter, smarter, value- added, safe and faster premium bicycles, which are comparable with global standards for exports and also for the domestic market, a second official said.
A commerce and industry ministry spokesperson confirmed the development.
“The Development Council for Footwear and Leather Industry has been established for the formulation and implementation of promotional and developmental measures for the growth of labour-intensive footwear and leather sectors in the country,” he said.
Development councils are formed for promotion and growth of identified sectors.
The formation of the council for the footwear and leather sector is in line with the Industrial (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951, the officials said. The government is also providing duty protection to these sectors from dumping of Chinese products, they said.
While presenting the Union budget on February 1 this year, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the unhindered imports of goods under free trade agreements (FTAs) were hurting domestic industries, particularly MSMEs and such imports required stringent checks.
She had announced hikes in customs duty on items such as footwear and furniture in a bid to protect them from imports, particularly from China.
The budget had raised import duty on footwear from 25% to 35%.
DK Aggarwal, president, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the council would act as an enabler for the domestic footwear and leather industry to become globally competitive and also provide a boost to domestic manufacturers through more job creation.
“It will help the Indian footwear and leather industry in exploring new market opportunities in the global arena and strengthen its supply chain abroad, especially in top export destinations amid the hard times because of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak,” he said.
Mohit Singla, chairman, Trade Promotion Council of India (TPIC), said the move is aimed at reducing imports. “The Development Council for Leather and Footwear Industry will provide a big boost to the domestic sector by bringing all stakeholders under one roof in a bid to establish synergies in both representations and policy formulations,” he said.