Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urges to develop ‘Brand Bangladesh’

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday urged the businessmen in leather footwear and leather goods industries to put concentration on developing ‘Brand Bangladesh’, revealing that the ‘Leather Development Authority’ would be formed for the sector. She said, “Let our products be marketed under our own name. Let the name of our country highlight. I want the name of Bangladesh to shine and grow.”

Prime Minister said this while inaugurating the 4th edition of Bangladesh Leather Footwear and  Leather goods International Sourcing Show (BLLISS-2023) as chief guest in the city’s Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC).  She added that her government will provide all necessary assistance and cooperation to the businessmen in the sector.

She further said, “Many countries take main parts of a product after producing those in Bangladesh and carry out necessary finishing, then market the product under their name. We can develop our own brands and market those under the name of Bangladesh. It is better to focus on creating ‘Brand Bangladesh.”

She urged the businessmen that they should concentrate on “whether we can create Brand Bangladesh.”

Mentioning the increased purchasing capacity of the country’s people, the Prime Minister said, “Our own market is being created and expanded. The more our market would expand the better results it would bring for us. The government will form a separate Leather Development Authority (LDA) under her office to avoid any sorts of problem.”

The theme of this year’s BLLISS-2023 is “Possible in Bangladesh”, which has aptly reflected the unprecedented developmental transformation that has taken place in Bangladesh through public-private initiatives in recent years. Echoing the theme, the premier said, “I also believe that ‘Possible in Bangladesh’.”

Sheikh Hasina mentioned three significant changes brought by her government for the betterment of the sector. She said that commercial farms spread across the country and revolution has happened in cattle rearing, resulting in the country becoming sufficient in supplying the entire needs of cattle, even in the season of sacrifice. Bangladesh has 2.5 million mature cattle annually.  Just a decade ago, the bulk of the country’s export earnings came mainly from the export of leather as raw material, but with the government’s incentives and policy support, high value added product manufacturing such as footwear and leather goods industries have expanded.

Now about 93 percent of the export income of this sector is coming from footwear and leather products. To solve the environmental problems of Hazaribagh, the government has taken proactive steps and completely shifted the tannery industries to the modern industrial city in Savar.

Sheikh Hasina  said, “I direct that the Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) at Savar should be completed in order to achieve international compliance certifications such as Leather Working Group (LDBWG) and Sustainable Leather Foundation (SLF).

Leather goods and Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) President Syed Nasim Manzur delivered welcome address.  Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, MP, Senior Secretary of Commerce Ministry Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Founder and Chairman of Advanced Manufacturing Group Jonathan Bobbett, and Investor and Founder of Golden Chang Group James Ho spoke at the event. After the inauguration, the premier visited BLLISS central display booth.

The BLLISS-2023 will open for brand representatives, buyers, distributors, sourcing agents, designers and industry experts at International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB) in Dhaka on October 12-14. The Prime Minister said that her government has a plan to develop area-based tannery industry (industrial estates) in several more places, including Chattogram and Rajshahi, in the country in phases. If we can do it (develop area-based tannery industry), the preservation, processing and use of leathers would go up. Besides, it will help to develop it (tannery industry) as a big industry for us.

She asked all concerned to preserve rawhides properly and to take proper measures to modernize slaughtering houses to this end. And the industry owners to pay taxes, gas and electricity bills properly as well as ensure wellbeing of the workers as they earn revenues for the owners.

Sheikh Hasina said that the leather goods and footwear industry has overtaken jute and jute products in export earnings over the last decade. “By stepping into a higher value addition level, it (the leather goods and footwear industry) has become the second largest export earning sector after the ready-made garments (RMG).

Noting that it is a labor intensive sector, she said some two lakh people directly and another 10 lakh indirectly were employed in the sector. “Bangladesh is the world’s 8th largest footwear producer, 11th largest consumer and 13th largest (footwear) exporter.  The local market for different products including leather goods is expanding with the rise of purchasing power of the local people.

The premier said the government has already formed a task force to make recommendations and formulate action plans for the development of the leather industry. In addition, Leather and Leather Products Development Policy 2019 was formulated. If we can produce and export finished products against 100 percent of our growing supply, we will easily be able to achieve US$ 3 billion export revenue from the leather goods and footwear sector by 2025. I want the overall export earnings from this sector to increase to US$ 10 billion by 2030.

She said some 150 acres of land will be there for the development of composite leather products and footwear factories in the expansion project of Savar Leather Industrial Estate. The land will be allocated against the LFMEAB members on priority basis for investment.

The prime minister asked the authorities concerned to make an end to red-tape bureaucracy and to implement decisions quickly. Referring to different problems in the international arena, she said Israel started repression towards Palestinians before ending a war. Israel has already occupied a large area of Palestine and now a blockade was imposed there.

Sheikh Hasina requested the international community to stop these. If the war and the game of arms can’t be stopped, the common people will finally suffer.

She said, “We want peace,” she said, mentioning that the motto of Bangladesh Foreign policy is “Friendship to All Malice towards None”.

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