Handicrafts exports rose 8.3% in the April-December period of this fiscal year to $2.67 billion from a year ago, outperforming the overall textile and garment sector that has seen a fall in recent months, show data compiled by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH).
“Usually the last quarter sees a lot of handicraft exports. So, we expect the target of $3.60 billion (which represents a just over 10% rise from 2015-16) for the current fiscal year to be just about achieved,” said EPCH executive director Rakesh Kumar. The export data for handicrafts exclude carpets and gems and jewellery.
Handicrafts exports could rise to almost $4 billion in 2017-18, recording an over 10% rise over the current fiscal year, said Kumar. Considering that exports in the overall textile and garment sector (of which handicraft is a part) have witnessed a contraction in recent months, the performance of this segment is noteworthy. Even the country’s overall merchandise exports during the April-December period saw only a marginal rise of 0.75% to $198.8 billion from a year earlier.
Attractive designs, quality products and aggressive promotion have been instrumental in boosting handicrafts exports in recent years, Kumar said. “Apart from sustaining and further consolidating our position in key markets like the US and the EU, we are trying to bolster our presence in relatively new markets like Latin America, over a dozen countries in the CIS regions, and Japan to step up exports in the coming years,” Kumar said.
Hit hard in the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008, India’s handicrafts exports bounced back in recent years, as outbound shipments more than doubled over the last five years through 2015-16, exceeding the growth in the country’s overall merchandise exports. In the rupee term, handicraft exports almost tripled to R20,368 crore between 2010-11 and 2015-16.
Analysts said while overall merchandise exports continue to suffer in recent years due to gloomy external environment, the handicraft segment has bucked the trend despite the fact that the US and the EU account for more than a half of India’s handicraft supplies and commodity prices have slid globally. In fact, the handicrafts exports started to rebound after 2010-11, albeit on a relatively smaller base, just two years after the sub-prime crisis, despite a fragile recovery in these nations.
Handicrafts exports have consistently exceeded the target set by the government in each year since 2009-10, while overall merchandise exports 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 two years, partly due to a massive plunge in global commodity prices.