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Handicraft markets in China expanding for Indian exporters Saurabh Gupta | 21 Feb, 2012

It is for the first time that the Indian handicrafts exports to China have shown a growth sign during the last few years, said Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) official recently. "One of the very interesting developments taken place during the last few years has been the growth in exports of handicrafts from India to China," said Ravi K. Passi, President of IHGF Spring 2012, at a press conference in New Delhi in connection with the upcoming Indian Handicrafts and Gifts Fair (IHGF) being organized by the EPCH from February 18. China has been known in the world to be a handicrafts producing country and famous for their ethnic designs, fine raw material bases of China Clay and excellent craftsmanship. China has been giving tough competition to India and its share in the world trade of handicrafts is around 30 percent. "However, it is well known that tremendous mechanization has taken place in China in production of handicrafts largely due to excessive demand in all kinds of handicrafts. Most of Chinese handicrafts are produced by machines and hand crafting is done only for finishing touches and this is one of the important reasons for low unit value of the Chinese products," said Passi. The Indian Handicrafts have also been known world over for ethnic designs, traditional heritage, cultural and religious origin and difference of designs, products, raw material bases from region to region of India. "The intricate designs and excellent craftsmanship with the use of vegetable colors has also been a specialty of India. India has been catering to the upper segment of various markets despite stiff competition from China," he said. Handicrafts exports to China in 2008-09 were to the tune of Rs. 418.33 crore and steadily increasing year after year during 2010-11, it amounted to Rs. 945.72 crore registering a growth of 94.07 percent within a span of three years, which is not only impressive but also indicative that Indian Handicrafts are finding a stable market in China. During 2009-10, the handicrafts products exported from India to China included metal crafts, wood crafts, hand printed textiles and scarves, fashion jewellery and accessories, shawls as artware, embroidered and crocheted goods and mix of various types of handicrafts classified as mix handicrafts. While exports of zari and zari goods and hand printed textiles and scarves suffered a minor decline of 8 percent and 67 percent respectively during 2010-11 compared to 2009-10 whereas increase in metal craft products showed a phenomenal growth of 991 percent and exports of wood crafts showed a growth of 116 percent , Passi said and added that the reasons for decline in zari and zari goods and hand printed textiles and scarves are being studied for remedial actions. "However, seeing the overall growth in exports of handicrafts to China clearly

establishes that China has now become important buyer of Indian Handicrafts products," alleged Passi. Rakesh Kumar, Executive Director, EPCH said that with the realization that India must cultivate and develop new markets and new areas, emphasis has been laid on the Latin American region. The Government embarked on a special scheme under MAI programme for export promotion activities in that region and the EPCH took full advantage of the scheme and initiated an aggressive programme of publicizing and promoting Indian Handicrafts in some of the important countries of Latin American region. Efforts of the Council initiated a few years ago now continuing with goods results. Important countries in the Latin American region are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. The first attempt of EPCH was to set a Folk Craft Festival at Caracus in Venezuela to develop awareness about Indian hand crafted products by daily use by common persons which was attended by business representatives and other neighbouring countries also, said Kumar. Demand in Latin America is increasing for Indian products like Zari and Zari goods, Embroidered and Crocheted goods, shawls as art-ware, wood crafts, hand printed textiles and scarves, fashion jewellery accessories and metal crafts. On an analysis of the exports for the year 2010-11, overall exports of handicrafts to Latin American region increased 31 percent. Increase was recorded in cases of Colombia by 63.75 percent followed by Mexico 54.20 percent, Argentina 50 percent, Venezuela 43.50 percent, Chile 28 percent, Brazil 7 percent. One of the most important and impressive performance was in respect of Panama where exports increased by 141 percent over the previous year. The exports of Handicrafts where were Rs. 356.52 crore in 2008-09 went up to Rs 37015 crore in 200910 and further up to Rs 484.48 crore in 2010-11. The Executive Director further added, "EPCH is concentrating on Latin American Region with the intention of developing the region as one of the important markets."