Carpet exporters devising new strategies to boost exports
KATHMANDU, Oct 16: In a bid to breathe new life into the country´s carpet industry, producers and exporters of hand-knotted woolen carpet are soon coming up with a new set of strategies, which, among others, cite steps they will take to build good labor relation at home and promote Nepali products abroad.
The entrepreneurs took the initiative mainly after persistent slowdown in demand for hand-knotted woolen carpets - a leading exportable product -- in the European countries and weakening supply capacity after labor shortage and unrest started taking toll on the industry.
"The (carpet) industry is suffering from twin problems: weakening of supply capacity and drop in demand from major international markets. We have no option but to come up with promotional activities to regain our lost market and boost our capacity to maintain supplies,” Anup Bahadur Malla, president of Nepal Carpet Exporters Association (NCEA), told Republica. “So, we are working out new strategies in consultation with experts and the government officials."
Under the promotional strategy, Malla said the NCEA was establishing a research and analysis wing at the association, setting up Nepali carpet pavilion in international fairs, developing new attractive designs and diversifying carpet markets.
“We will set up Nepal pavilions ins leading international fairs like Domotex that is organized in Hannover of Germany," said Malla.
So far Nepal´s participation in international fairs was limited to small stalls.
"We are also prioritizing creation of attractive designs by maintaining our genuine identity,” he said. Malla further added that NCEA will soon make efforts to create production environment and ramp up the supply capacity to regain overseas market.
The association is also holding talks with trade unions to keep carpet industries free from labor unrest. “This will strengthen our supply capacity,” added Malla.
Bijay Bahadur Shrestha, executive member of NCEA and a leading exporter of Nepali carpets, said some carpet entrepreneurs were already making individual efforts, including creation of new designs, to regain the lost markets.
“Some exporters are creating new designs to participate in trade fairs in major international markets," said Shrestha. He also said some exporters will unveil their new designs at the Domotex carpet fair that is being organized in January, 2013 in Hannover, Germany.
Despite rise in carpet exports in US and Chinese markets in recent years, exports of hand-knotted carpet to Europe declined last year due to eurozone crisis. Data compiled by Trade and Export Promotion Center (TEPC) shows carpet exports dropped in more than 70 percent of total 25 major overseas markets, which mainly include European countries, in 2011/12.
Hand-knotted Nepali carpets are popular in Germany, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Turkey, Sweden and Denmark, among other European countries.
However, carpet exports to China increased by nine-fold during the review year. Total value of carpets exported to the world´s second largest economy also grew by more than five times over the year.
During 2011/12, Nepal exported 684,440 sq meters of hand-knotted carpet worth Rs 6 billion. The country had imported a total of 833,410 sq meters of carpets amounting to Rs 4.92 billion in 2010/11.