POST TIME: 1 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Handicraft registers 7.3pc growth in July-Sept of FY20
Sharif Ahmed, Dhaka

Handicraft registers 7.3pc growth in July-Sept of FY20

There has been a steady  year-on-year growth in handicrafts exports thanks to low production costs, cash incentives, access to loans with single-digit interest rates, availability of raw materials, and exports to new markets, according to industry insiders.          

According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) statistics, export earnings from handicrafts fetched USD 5.29 million during the July-September period of FY2019–20, registering a 7.3 per cent growth from the USD 4.93 million earned during the same period in FY2018–19.

Ashrafur Rahman Faruque, former president of the Bangladesh Handicrafts Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association (BHMEA), told The Independent that the sector required no investment because the products were completely locally produced and homemade.     

“This industry does not need big capital-intensive machines and enormous funds. Skilled human resources are the pivotal component of this sector,” he added. Explaining the reasons behind this growth, SU Haider, owner of the Island Trading Corporation, told The Independent that the global cost of producing handicrafts was on the rise due to higher wage rates in countries that traditionally produced such items. “But the wage rate is low in Bangladesh,” he noted.

“We get 10 per cent cash incentives, which help us to boost up the export growth. Product diversification, product development, and penetrating new markets are the reasons behind the growth as well,” he added. 

When asked, Haider said: “Japan is a huge market for us where we have started exporting handicraft products. Since all raw materials are available here, we can produce handicrafts at prices that would be lower than those in other countries.”

“Countries like China, Vietnam, and Thailand, which are known for producing handicraft products, are shifting towards high-tech industries. This is an opportunity for us to capture the global market,” he added. Bangladesh exports handicrafts mostly to North America, Europe, and Middle Eastern countries, he said. “Cane is the most important raw material of handicrafts. We must preserve this component,” he added.

When asked, Faruque said value-addition to handicraft products, skilled labour force, and government support had helped boost the export growth of this sector.   

Talking about product performance, Faruque said that two products—shotorongi and terracotta—had recently been added to the export basket, which eventually accelerated the export growth. “Our wage rate is comparatively lower than that of other handicraft-producing countries. Moreover, all types of raw materials are available here,” he adde3d. Handloom fabrics, he said, were being exported to Japan, Denmark, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland, and Sweden.