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Indian handicrafts carve a niche in domestic market
Sep '08
With growing demand for Indian handicrafts in the Gulf, Indian enterprises engaged to this industry have plans to promote and expand its prominence in the region.

This proposition was further given a confirmation by Mr Shankar Singh Vaghela, Textile Minister who visited UAE recently to attend an interactive seminar on 'Brand Image Promotion of Indian Handicrafts'. He said that UAE would be the new focus region for the exports of handicraft goods from India.

The seminar was organized by the Indian consulate in Dubai in association with Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH), India and the office of the Development Commissioner for Handicrafts under the Ministry of Textiles. Mr Vaghela noted that, “The UAE's consumption of Indian handicraft items are contributing significantly to our artisans' incomes. When you are buying a handicraft item you are actually providing a 'roti' to the artisan behind the product.”

In 2007-08, UAE stood as the fourth largest importer of Indian handicraft items accounting for 6 percent of India's total exports of handicraft goods. US on the other hand emerged as the largest market with 32 percent, followed by UK with 11 percent and Germany with 10 percent.

In all, India exported handicraft goods worth Rs8.66 billion to UAE in the said period, up from Rs5.33 billion in 2002-03. Of these, hand-knitted and crocheted goods formed the majority of exports amounting to Rs4.12 billion. Besides, handcrafted textiles and scarves along with some other products fetched Rs1.07 billion while miscellaneous handicrafts comprising wood ware, shawls, zari and zari goods and imitation jewellery earned Rs1.09 billion.

However, some of those present for the seminar pointed out that Indian handicrafts lacked price-competitiveness when compared to those imported from China. To this Mr Vaghela retorted by saying, “The 'Made in India' brand is all about quality and not necessarily about price competitiveness”.

Most of the handicraft items from India are brought to the region as gifts. In fact Mr Sanjay Agarwal, Development Commissioner for handicrafts stated that in the future as well exports to the region would only grow. He asserted, “We expect exports to the UAE to grow by at least 40 percent in the next five years.” Moreover, he also noted that Latin America and Australia have been identified as important markets where major Indian festivals could be held for promotion of Indian handicrafts.

The Consul General of India in Dubai Mr Venu Rajamony, has plans to create an 'Indian Mart in Dubai in association with Nakheel, a UAE-based real estate major. This is being considered on lines of the Dragon Mart set up in the region which is the biggest outlet for Chinese goods outside China.

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