Kashmir Buyer-seller Meet Evokes Good Response

13 August 2009
The Hindu

Srinagar: The international buyer-seller meet that ended here on Tuesday has helped handicraft traders in Kashmir re-establish their direct links with foreign buyers. The four-day meet, inaugurated by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh on August 8, on the banks of Dal Lake was sponsored by the Union Government and organised by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). “We have done business which has been more than what we had expected,” said KCCI President Mubeen Shah. Carpet business The chamber is now compiling data on the orders received by various traders. The meet has also set forth the trend of arrival of high-value foreign buyers directly to Kashmir, which was discontinued in 1989. “This has set forth the process of shifting the carpet business from New Delhi to Srinagar,” said Mr. Shah. At present around 90 per cent of carpet trade, whose total volume is Rs. 800-1,000 crore, is done from New Delhi. “From Srinagar, the volume of carpet trade is just Rs. 100-150 crore,” said Mr. Shah. Traders said that if the business shifted back to Srinagar it would give a huge boost to the local economy and the entire profit would be shared by the Kashmiris and they would also get a good price. According to Feroz Ahmad Bisati of Modern Carpets, “the meet has been a grand success and now the need of the hour is to continue this momentum.” Biannual affair Mr. Bisati called for making the event a biannual affair in accordance with the best buying season of the year. Besides carpets, orders have been received for crewel stitch, shawls, papier mache and wood products. UAE and Germany have been among the biggest buyers. Traders felt that the meet had been able to break the age old jinx and inhibition that Kashmir was not the safe place for doing business. Shakil Ahmad Chaku from wood carving company A R Chaku and Sons said, “the big thing is that businessmen are able to come here and it augurs well for Kashmir.” Chaku’s wood products have generated interest among Brazilian and even some Palestinian businessmen.