Pakistan's carpet exports regain momentum
In spite of adverse trend in the EU and the US markets, Pakistan's hand-knotted carpet exports have remained resilient over the past three years, as exporters have succeeded in exploring new export avenues.
Pakistan's carpet exports to the EU and the US markets have been declining for past some years due to dwindling orders. This has caused the number of active carpet exporters in the country to fall from over 1,000 in 2000 to below 65 now.
2000-01 was the golden year for the Pakistani carpet industry, when its exports touched record high of US$ 288 million, but after that there has been a constant fall in its exports. However, over the last two years, the country's carpet exports have shown resilience by being in the range of around US$ 130 million. This year, too, it is expected to keep in the same range.
This stability is due to finding of new carpet export markets over the last 10 years. The new markets include Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala in Central America, Turkey in Europe and Argentina and Brazil in South America.
According to industry analysts, the Central and South American markets have matured, but there is still growth potential in the Turkish market. About 30 percent of Pakistan's hand-knotted carpet exports are now destined to these new markets.
However, exports to these new destinations are believed to have developed at a slower pace than the fall in exports to the already established markets.
Exports to the US declined from high of US$ 92 million per annum to about US$ 40 million per annum and the downtrend still continues. Likewise, exports to Europe have also declined to half and are further falling due to financial crisis there.
Experts say the new markets identified so far have limited potential and they foresee the Chinese market as the one having the real growth potential, as it has an emerging affluent class with an appetite for hand-knotted carpets, which are recognized as a status symbol.
In wake of this, several active carpet exporters from Pakistan took part in an international exhibition in China, and have met good response.
However, it is expected that it would take some time before Chinese market starts delivering returns. For example, it took almost 15 years for the South African markets to start delivering returns after Pakistani carpet exports penetrated in that market.
Once the potential of the Chinese market is fully exploited, it is expected to shoot up the demand for Pakistani carpets, but till then the Pakistani carpet producers would have to struggle hard to keep its highly skilled carpet weaving workforce occupied.
Fibre2fashion News Desk - India