Artisans in Moradabad, Barmer, Agra and Mysore are a worried lot. So are their peers peppered across the country with export orders drying out from countries in Europe and the US amid the worst economic downturn in the last 80 years.
India’s exports contracted for the 11th successive month plunging by 19.4 per cent in August. Shrinking world demand has affected India’s handicrafts, gems and jewellery, leather and textile exports severely during the current financial year.
The fall in handicraft exports has been steeper. “During April to August 2009, handicrafts exports have fallen by more than 21 per cent due to the slump in global markets,” said Rakesh Kumar, executive director of Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH).
Major handicraft centres include Moradabad in UP for brassware, Kutch in Gujarat for embroidered goods, Mysore in Karnataka for wooden artware and Agra for hand printed textiles. Europe and the US account for more than 55 per cent of India’s $168 billion exports.
“In the $250 billion global gifts and handicrafts market, India’s share is a meagre 2 per cent and we have to evolve promotional strategies to enhance it to atleast 4 per cent in the world market,” Textiles Secretary Rita Menon says.
“The focus is now on new emerging markets such as Latin America, Central Asia, Africa and South East Asia,” said Kumar.
A study by the UN Commission for Trade and Development said China, West Asia, South East Asia, Australia and Brazil are likely to witness faster recovery.