“The government provided TK3.65bn (US$469,000) for the hide traders last year. But we want more this year to meet increased demand,” he said.

Shaheen Ahmed said that global buyers choose Bangladeshi finished leather goods due to its attractive designs, competitive prices and longevity. He said production cost of leather goods has increased in China and India, which has prompted the retailers to shift their orders to Bangladesh. “This is an opportunity for us.”

The country’s exports earning continued to witness higher growth as the manufacturers are producing more value-added products, said Belal Hossain, Chairman of Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters’ Association.

According to Hossain, more raw material is expected to be available this year.

The government has set a target to earn $670m from leather and leather goods exports this fiscal year. From this total, $460m will be earned from leather and $210m will be from leather goods.

Last year, the export earnings from leather and leather goods rose to US$561 million in the last fiscal year, posting a 23% growth from the previous year.

In 2012-13, Bangladesh obtained $561.4 million in leather exports and finished leather goods compared with $430 million in 2011-12, according to Export Promotion Bureau data.

From the $561.35 million total, leather exports were worth $399.7 million and the leather goods exports were worth $161.6 million.

Leather industry entrepreneurs in Bangladesh have demanded all-out cooperation from the national government to explore new markets for leather goods.

They said the sector has a potential to increase the export earnings to manifold in next couple of years.

According to EPB data Italy, Belgium, France, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Spain, Poland, the UK and Germany are the main destination countries for the Bangladeshi leather goods.