While merchandise exports have been in negative territory for the 10th month in a row, some odd sectors have weathered the crisis, reports Banikinkar Pattanayak in New Delhi. Handicrafts, where competition is outdone by India’s unique artistry, is one.
Hit hard in the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008, India’s handicraft exports bounced back in recent years, as outbound shipments more than doubled over the last five years through 2014-15, exceeding the growth in the country’s overall merchandise exports. In rupee terms, handicraft exports almost tripled to Rs 18,639 crore in the five years through 2014-15 thanks to a depreciation of the rupee against the dollar.
Analysts said while overall merchandise exports continue to suffer in recent years due to a gloomy external environment, the handicrafts segment has bucked the trend despite the fact that the US and EU account for more than half of India’s handicraft supplies and commodity prices have slid globally.
In fact, handicraft exports started to rebound after 2010-11, albeit on a relatively smaller base, just two years after the subprime crisis, despite a fragile recovery in these nations. Such exports grew to $3.04 billion in 2014-15 from $1.7 billion in 2010-11, recording an average annual growth rate of nearly 20%, while the country’s overall merchandise exports witnessed an average annual growth rate of 5.9% during this period.
Handicraft exports have consistently exceeded the target set by the government in each of the last five years, while the overall merchandise export growth target continues to falter.
While agriculture was among the segments that witnessed high export growth rate in recent years, it witnessed a contraction in the last fiscal, partly due to a massive plunge in global commodity prices.