KOLKATA: India’s leather industry is staring at an export loss of $1.5 billion due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has gripped the global markets. Most leather clusters in the country are closed barring the leather complexes in Kolkata and Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, which have just received permission to reopen.

India exports leather products worth $5.5 -$6 billion annually. Leather exporters said countries like US, Germany and Italy have started sending enquiries and are negotiating for negotiating for a lower price. “Importers from US, UK, France, Italy, Spain and Germany had either cancelled orders or have put them on hold. Some of them are also delaying payments. The loss is around $1.5 billion and we do not know when we will be able to recover it,” Ramesh Juneja, regional chairman of Council of Leather Exports, told ET.

“Most leather clusters in the country are closed. Leather units in Kanpur and Tamil Nadu are not working. Unnao has just started operations with 33% workforce. At Calcutta Leather Complex in Bantala, exporters were not initially getting raw hides as trucks were not coming in. Now that has eased a bit and raw hides are coming.” Juneja said.

Juneja said clients from the US, Germany and Italy are now sending business enquiries. “But they want to negotiate the price. They are offering us lesser price,” he added.

But exporters are not able to commit to the orders due to the freeze on industrial activities. Mohammed Faisal, business development manager (international) of Kanpurbased Parvez Shoes, a footwear exporting firm said “The migrant workers have left and so, getting labourers is a real challenge. Since the units are closed, we do not know what is the condition of the raw hides that are lying at the units.”