FREEFALL OF KASHMIR’S HANDICRAFT| Exports plummet 44% in 5 years; exporters in distress

Official figures further reveal that in 2016-17, Rs 1151 crore exports were recorded, Rs 1090 crore in 2017-18, Rs 917 crore in 2018-19, Rs 935 in 2019-20 and Rs 635 crore in 2020-21.
FREEFALL OF KASHMIR’S HANDICRAFT| Exports plummet 44% in 5 years; exporters in distress
Official figures further point out that the decline in exports has been constant, recording a dip year after year, barring 2019-20 when a marginal increase was recorded.GK Layout Desk

Srinagar: In a worrying trend, Kashmir’s handicraft exports are witnessing a downward trend as in the last 5 years the export figures have shown a decline of 44 percent.

As per the official figures accessed by Greater Kashmir, from mopping Rs 1151 crore from exports of handicraft items in the financial year 2016-17, the export figures have come down to Rs 635 crore in 2020-21, signifying a decline of 44 percent in this period.

Official figures further point out that the decline in exports has been constant, recording a dip year after year, barring 2019-20 when a marginal increase was recorded.

Further dissecting the figures, the lowest exports were recorded in the financial year 2020-21 in the last five years. During 2020-21, handicraft items worth Rs 635 crore were exported to foreign countries, which includes carpets worth Rs 299.56 crore, Shawl Rs 172.52 crore, paper mache Rs 13.27 crore, C.stich, crewel Rs 140 crore, wood carving Rs 7.22 crore and other items Rs 2.44 crore.

Official figures further reveal that in 2016-17, Rs 1151 crore exports were recorded, Rs 1090 crore in 2017-18, Rs 917 crore in 2018-19, Rs 935 in 2019-20 and Rs 635 crore in 2020-21.

This downtrend has put Kashmiri handicraft exporters in distress, they complain of incurring huge losses mostly from the last three years since 2019 when the special status of J&K was read down which led to restrictions and internet suspension, it was followed by COVID lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Sheikh Ashiq said “it is a distressing situation for us, we are incurring losses, exporters have been hit hard in Kashmir since 2019. The global pandemic has affected all sectors of the economy and the export sector is one of the worst-hit. But our problem started in 2019 when Kashmir was under restrictions as a result of which exporters were not able to deliver their consignments on time."

He said that KCCI in collaboration with FEIO is organizing several programmes at district levels to make districts as export hubs. “We aim to increase our export figures to Rs 1000 crore by next one year."

President, Chamber of Commerce and Industries Kashmir (CCIK), Tariq Rashid Ghani said that the exporters in Kashmir are incurring huge losses as a result of which there is a constant decline in export figures from J&K.

“Many of the exporters have shut their businesses in these years, we have faced continuous lockdown like situations from 2019 as a result of which there is a constant decline in handicrafts exports. Our handicraft sector is the worst hit as there is less demand for handicraft items in global markets have has resulted in job losses and business losses for people affiliated with the handicraft sector. "

A senior official said that in order to give a fillip to handicrafts exports, the government has announced the operational guidelines to avail the Export subsidy after the same was cleared by the Administrative council recently.

The main objective of the Export subsidy is to provide promotional measures to boost the Handicrafts and Handloom exports from the UT.

Under the scheme, an incentive of 10 percent of the total volume of Handicraft/Handloom products exported to any country with a maximum reimbursement of 5crore (whichever is lesser) will be provided to the eligible exporters who are registered with the Handicrafts and Handloom Department.

The Export subsidy shall be applicable for GI products that will be certified by the quality control wing/ testing lab of the Handicrafts Department and shall not be entitled on machine-made stuff.

The subsidy shall be availed on the Handicraft exports whose origin is from J&K. In case the origin of exports is outside J&K, it shall have to be accompanied by an e-way bill.

Greater Kashmir
www.greaterkashmir.com