Hopeful of finalising certain FTAs in next few months: Piyush Goyal
Addressing the Indian footwear industry, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal urged stakeholders to focus on quality, sustainability, and eco-friendly process.
While addressing representatives from the footwear industry in Delhi on Saturday, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said that he was hopeful of India finalising certain free trade agreements (FTAs) in the next few months, to help promote exports.
"We can leverage the free trade agreements with the UAE and Australia... We will finalise many more free trade agreements to help you (footwear industry) grow your business with zero duty on finished leather products and footwear available, and for you to exploit bigger and better markets," he added.
India is in the final stages of concluding FTA negotiations with the UK. The country is also negotiating similar pacts with Canada and European Union (EU).
Goyal urged stakeholders to focus on quality, sustainability, eco-friendly process, waste management, and exploring renewable sources of electricity in order to tap business opportunities in the developed world. "Not only do we need to enhance our design capabilities to move up the value chain, but also bring in more investments and technology to scale up the production and produce innovative products", he added. The government has issued quality control norms for the sector and the government is ready to set up testing facilities for certifications.
He added that India has the capacity to become the world's largest, and best-quality footwear manufacturer. He further added that Indian-size of footwear will be soon launched to help distinguish Indian footwear around the globe and reduce dependence on foreign sizing trends.
India is the second-largest exporter of leather garments, third-largest exporter of saddlery and harnesses and fourth-largest exporter of leather goods in the world. The Indian footwear and leather industry is not only a major foreign exchange earner but being a labour-intensive sector, providing employment to about 4.5 million people, 40% of whom are women. More than 95% of the production units in this sector are micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) units.
The minister suggested industrialists explore FTAs for technological collaborations, and joint ventures of non-leather footwear, thus increasing the country's export and enhancing the domestic market with Indian products. He highlighted the beauty of Kolhapuri footwear of Maharashtra and Mojari footwear of Rajasthan, stating that it should be an area of attraction for international buyers as well.
Edited by Kanishk Singh