Handicraft exports meet $3.3 billion target for 2012-13

NEW DELHI: India's handicraft exports have met the target of $3.3 billion set for the 2012-13 fiscal, despite a slowdown in the western markets.

During 2011-12, these exports stood at $2.7 billion, according to the data provided by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH).

"In 2012-13, handicrafts exports have witnessed a growth of 22.15 per cent to $3.3 billion as there is a good response not only from the US market, but also from new markets like China, Latin America and Africa," EPCH Vice-Chairman Arshad Mir told reporters here.

 However, he said the demand is still sluggish in European countries. The US and Europe together account for about 60 per cent of the country's total handicraft shipments.

Among the items that registered increase during 2012-13, imitation jewellery saw the highest growth of about 56 per cent, followed by shawls as artwares 55.5 per cent, woodwares 55 per cent, hand printed textiles and scarves 19 per cent.

The council expects handicraft exports to grow by 20 per cent in the current fiscal.

To give a further boost to the labour-intensive sector, the handicrafts industry has urged the government to increase the interest subsidy to 5 per cent, from 2 per cent at present, besides extending it for another five years, in the upcoming Foreign Trade Policy on April 18.

The interest subsidy scheme, which was to end on March 2013, has been extended for one more year.

Besides, the council has asked for adding more products in the embellishment items benefit list, under which an exporter can import duty free raw-material. At present, the list includes just 25 items.

The handicraft sector employs about 10 lakh people. Moradabad, Jaipur, Saharanpur and Jodhpur are the major handicraft hubs in the country catering to global markets.

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