Global Recession Impacts Kashmir Handicrafts

24 August 2009
Rising Kashmir

Srinagar: The global economic slowdown has caused a dip of more than 41 per cent in Kashmiri handicraft exports during the fiscal 2008-09 against preceding period. Handicrafts goods of Rs 1200.47 crores were exported during the year 2007-2008 from Kashmir. The global recession that engulfed the world’s big economies has contracted exports by 41.23 per cent, as handicraft goods worth Rs 705.50 crores only could be exported to Europe, United States and West Asia during 2008-2009. “The export to European Union that consumes almost 60 per cent of our products has contracted drastically,” said Hamid Punjabi, the secretary general and spokesman of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, KCCI. Carpet, which contributes 50 per cent to our craft exports, is the worst hit, he added. “Since carpet is a luxurious item, the economic down turn has weaned away the buying potential of customers across Europe,” said Hakim Zafar Ali, a leading Valley based carpet exporter to Europe. The sales have been hit by 50 per cent, he said. Against an overseas sales of Rs 649 crores during 2007-2008, carpets sales valued at Rs 326 crores only were recorded during the preceding year. The second highest hit is the shawl industry. It suffered an export loss of almost Rs 90 crore during the ongoing recession. Woolen shawls including, Pashmina, Kani and Sozni valued at Rs 310.29 crores were sold overseas in 2007-2008. However, shawls worth Rs 226.50 crores could be sold during the previous year. Papier machie however registered a surge of Rs 8 crores in the collapsed overseas market. Different papier machie items costing Rs 41 crores were sold in the international market by Kashmiris in the previous year against a transaction of Rs 33.65 crores in 2007-2008. However, other craft products including, woodwork, chain stitch, crewel and other products suffered a fall of Rs 95 crores. Our traders tried to explore new markets in Africa and other regions but it made least impact, Punjabi said. The signs of economic revival in Europe are visible and by the end of the year the trade is expected to pick up, Zafar Ali, the exporter said.