A five-day Leather Craft Training Programme aiming to enable participants acquire knowledge and skills to develop leather products kicked off, yesterday at the Business Facilitation and Development Centre of SME Mauritius Ltd, in Coromandel. The training programme is being conducted by the experts from the Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute (ALLPI), in collaboration with the Association of Leather and Leather Related Products of Mauritius.

In his address, the Minister stated the leather industry, being a lucrative one, has enormous potentials to bring considerable gains to the country and needed a new thrust for survival on the global market. The Ministry, he said, will exploit fully the potential of the leather industry so as to enter targeted ‘niche’ markets and explore the possibilities of high-end finished line leather products through modern technologies.

He recalled that according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, the value of trade in the leather industry across the world is about USD 130 billion annually. However, he noted that according to data of the strategic report for the leather industry launched in May this year, Mauritius exports 70% of the skins of cattle, which represents economic losses estimated at 1100% for the country.

The Minister thus said that in order for Mauritius to fully exploit the potential of the leather sector, which will bring significant economic gains, the leather industry will have to be well equipped so as to face challenges. This, he indicated, is the main reason for seeking the expertise of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and ALLPI. Mauritius, with its geographical location, its governance system, its stability, its favourable business climate and some 173 registered small and medium enterprises in the leather industry, has every reason to project itself towards a revitalisation of the leather sector, he added.

According to Mr Bholah, Africa can be a good source of raw materials and an exporter of finished goods. The ALLPI has highly contributed in identifying challenges and formulating appropriate support mechanisms to allow Mauritius to seize global market opportunities and achieve its full potential in the leather sector, he added.

Furthermore, the Minister stated that Government is committed to the development of this sector. In the last budget, provision has been made for the establishment of a Design Centre for leather products in premises of SME Mauritius, whereby 3D technologies will be deployed. This measure, he said, will help boost the competitiveness of the local leather industry and also aims at establishing the leather industry among the top 10 most competitive sub-sectors that contribute to exports by 2025.

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