They have also sought a hike in import duty on chemicals like basic chrome sulphate and sodium sulphide, which are imported from China and used for treating leather.
These chemicals attract an import duty of 8.2%, which the industry wants to be raised to 35%.
“Even though the import duty on footwear was increased to 35% in 2019, the flow of Chinese footwear has not come down a bit,” Ramesh Juneja, regional chairman at Council of Leather Exports, told ET. “The only way this can be controlled is to impose anti-dumping duty. We have already written to the government on this.”
The leather industry has become more vocal amid the rising clamour to boycott Chinese goods following the recent face off between Indian and Chinese armies on the Line of Actual Control.
China manufactures 13.1 billion pairs of shoes annually. Its own consumption is 4.1 billion pairs. It thus has a huge volume of footwear to export. On the contrary, India produces 2.57 billion pairs of shoes. India’s per capita consumption has increased to 2 pairs per year in 2019 from 1.7 pairs in 2016. This has encouraged China to export more to India.
Muhammad Babar, owner of Agra-based Relex Footwear, said the domestic market is flooded with Chinese footwear. “We are losing our customers because we cannot manufacture shoes at such a low cost,” he said.
Juneja said factories that used to manufacture the chemicals for treating leather have closed down in the country due to cheap imports from China.
Praveen Khandelwal, national secretary general of Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), said China is damaging the footwear industry in two ways. “They sell leather to Indian trade at a cheaper price from which footwear is made. And secondly, they directly export footwear to India. Leather industry is a labour-intensive industry and therefore, due to the Chinese imports, our men are not getting work.”
Khandelwal said not only footwear, China is also exporting leather wallets, leather visiting card holders and other leather stationery at a very low prices. “We have asked the Central government either to significantly increase import duty on these goods or else impose anti-dumping duty.”