Trade Event | Meet at Agra
At the 11th edition of Meet at Agra’17, scores of representatives from the footwear manufacturing and components industry gathered in the city of Agra for a three-day exhibition and conference.
Meet At Agra Turns 11
Agra Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Chamber (AFMEC) held a three-day exhibition which has resulted in the most important combination of material display held in India for the leather sector. The fair was attended by 160 companies from India, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Taiwan and China. This year, 240 stalls were set up at the fair.
The fair was inaugurated by Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla and the special guest at the function was chairman of the National Commission of Scheduled Caste Ram Shankar Katheria. According to AFMEC, the event is not just for product exhibition, but is also a platform to strengthen supply chain, build new business relations, capacity building and technology exchange. It also believes that the expo will also help enrich the knowledge base of entrepreneurs and learning opportunities for students training at footwear institutes. Several companies from across the globe presented at this year’s fair new products, applications and innovations especially for the footwear sector that has generated most demand for leather in the past few years.
Among these exhibitors, Biocentro, Alert Soles and CS Leathers unveiled their innovative products that are likely to open up many market opportunities.
Despite a very slight drop in visitors from other regions, the total number was in par with last year as more manufacturers from Agra region and visitors from Delhi thronged the show. The number of buyers travelling to Agra to source materials and meet new suppliers highlights the importance of Meet at Agra as a business platform for the surrounding manufacturing regions.
Crucially major companies and key buyers were all present attending this annual event well-placed to serve both exports and domestic markets. To grab a slice of the lucrative Agra
pie is no doubt a key goal for exhibitors at Meet at Agra, and the surge of quality buyers at this edition as well as exhibitors’ pleasing results once again proves the potential of this market.
Puran Dawar, president of AFMEC, said, “Leather is not a luxury item, it’s a basic necessity. Small-scale manufacturers of footwear have been disheartened as the industry has been hit badly.” Claiming that the recently-introduced GST rates have adversely affected Agra’s shoemaking industry, which remains the livelihood of 3.5 lakh families, manufacturers have demanded exemption from GST and also reduction of taxes on raw material from the existing slabs of 12%, 18% and 28% to a flat rate of 5%.” Puran Dawar also expressed concern over GST refund issue. “The government had also announced that it would be providing refunds within 7 days, but it has been four months and no mechanism has been set up for this so far.”
While the concept of GST was to base on the revenue neutral rate that was closest to that the government is not looking at making additional revenue from any particular sector but we are concerned when we are talking about 18%, the premise which the government has mentioned and even the finance minister is that they have calculated the weighted average rate.
Prior to introduction of GST, manufacturers with a turnover of less than ` 1.50 crore did not have to pay excise duty. Even footwear costing up to ` 499 a pair was exempted from VAT and excise in Agra. Now 5% GST has been imposed on footwear up to ` 500. AFMEC and Council for Footwear Leather & Accessories (CFLA ) are demanding 5% GST for footwear.
Addressing the conference, Guest of Honour Adesh Gupta, Chairman Council for Footwear Leather & Accessories said, “Footwear manufacturing is a sunrise sector and complements the Make in India program. The Modi government has decided that this will be the top priority sector because we are the second largest manufacturing in the world and our consumption within India is almost 95% of the shoes produced. However, the industry is totally disappointed to be placed in a high tax slab. While the concept of GST was to base on the revenue neutral rate that was closest to that the government is not looking at making additional revenue from any particular sector but we are concerned when we are talking about 18%, the premise which the government has mentioned and even the finance minister is that they have calculated the weighted average rate.”
Puran added, “We completely support the intent of the government and believe that the various policies introduced would create a stronger future for the Indian trade. But presently the high GST rate structure, slashing of duty drawback and blockage of credit is taking its toll on the sector. Many manufacturers in the domestic market are struggling due to high tax slab. We urge the government to review and revisit the working to make trade viable in this sector. Agra industry, which caters to 65% of footwear demand in India and has a 25% share in exports, has seen a 60% drop in business as a result of all these decisions.”
Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla at the Inauguration of Meet at Agra with Puran Dawar
Puran Dawar, President, AFMEC We completely support the intent of the government and believe that the various policies introduced would create a stronger future for the Indian trade. But presently the high GST rate structure, slashing of duty drawback and blockage of credit is taking its toll on the sector. Many manufacturers in the domestic market are struggling due to high tax slab.
Ishaan Sachdeva, Virola Shoes, receiving award
Adesh Gupta, chairman, Council for Footwear, Leather & Accessories (CFLA)