“The leather and footwear sector in Tunisia is opening up to technology to enhance its added value. The potential is there despite the ambient gloom. Craftsmen, young creators and companies must believe in it and seize the opportunities that present themselves there”, launched, on Tuesday, in a tone of optimism, the DG of the National Leather and Footwear Center (CNCC), Nabil Ben Bechir .
According to Ben Bechir, who was addressing, at the Cité des Sciences in Tunis, the young people who had come to attend the 30th edition of the Euro-Mediterranean Competition “Le Talon de cristal “Créatif 2022”, “the opening of the sector to the world of technology is a call for young talent to join a sector that has often been perceived as one of the most traditional, but which has finally decided to ride the wave of technological evolution to attract a workforce more and more qualified.
In addition, many young people were present at a panel on “Mechanisms for financing and supporting innovative projects in the leather industry sector”, organized as part of this two-day competition (May 17 to 18, 2022 ) and having, this year, as its theme “Reinventing the classic in the era of new technology”.
Export earnings estimated at 1600MD in 2021
For his part, the president of the National Federation of Leather and Footwear, Akram Belhaj, underlined that the sector covers a whole value chain which goes from breeding to the industrial process, provides 4% of industrial production and contributes actively to national exports, specifying that its exports amounted, in 2021, to 1600 million dinars against imports of 1000 million dinars, i.e. a surplus of 600 million dinars.
Belhaj estimated that the margin for development of the sector’s exports is enormous, especially since its exports barely cover 1.8% of European consumption in terms of footwear.
However, he mentioned the great difficulties encountered by companies in the sector and a decline in the number of employees from 60,000 in 2010 to 33,000 in 2022, explaining this decline by illegal competition through the importation of shoes and products leather by the thrift store sector, the lack of control over the quality of imported finished and semi-finished products, parallel trade, etc.
He thus pleaded for a firm application of the law, in particular the Order of the Minister of Industry and SMEs and the Minister of Trade of August 7, 2020, relating to the labeling of the composition of shoes and similar articles and setting their safety requirements and the law prohibiting the sale of shoes in second-hand clothes stores.
Belhaj also pinpointed a lack of support for young promoters at the level of financing structures and administrative structures, calling for the simplification of procedures, the simplification of business creation processes and the granting of financing to promote the creation of businesses.
The official also deplored the reluctance of young people to train in this field, hoping that the new orientation towards more technology and the new partnerships concluded and to come with universities and technological companies can give young people the will to invest in it.
The panel attended by representatives of BFPME, “Enda Tamweel” and the “Tamweeli” program was also an opportunity for the young people present to discuss their funding concerns with specialists in the profession.