April 24, 2020
We need to strengthen ‘Make in India’ and leverage the online platform which will help to boost the handicraft industry, Mr. Rakesh Kumar, Director General, Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts
Handicraft has been the backbone of the Indian Economy and society with this backdrop, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized an interactive Webinar on Gifts and Handicrafts Sector Export Promotion – Challenges Opportunities and way Forward post COVID-19 with Mr. Rakesh Kumar, Director General, Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts, Mr. Arun Kumar Yadav, Director, Development Commissioner Handicrafts, Ministry of Textiles on 23rd April 2020. The session witnessed a participation of more than 200 industry players and senior’ members of PHD Chamber all over the country.
The objective of the webinar was to discuss the Impact on Moradabad and Saharanpur export, support/ facilities to local trade and industry from the local DIC centers and suggestions, and action plan for promoting quantum jump of Handicraft Export from India. Mr. Rakesh Kumar, Director General, Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts, appreciated the efforts of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry to organize such an interactive webinar on such a significant issue in these crucial times and said that the issue has been divided into two parts. One is the present scenario of COVID-19 problems and other the post-COVID-19 Scenario.
In the current scenario which is unfolding day-by-day, we are in a tough situation of vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. We know that the industry is facing a lot of issues, hardships and we are trying our best to resolve them at the earliest for the smooth working of the industry. We are constantly in touch with the ministries and concerned departments, said Mr. Rakesh Kumar.
Mr. Rakesh Kumar explained that in a nutshell, the issues are majorly on the cash flow issue, material supply, production which is leading to a disruption in the industry due to the lockdown. Because of these problems, the industry is facing issues on the payment of wages to the laborers and other staff. Looking at the problems, we can estimate that April will be a tough time for this industry. Though the government has tried to support and has come out with plans and reliefs, they are not aligned with the current situation of the industry.
In the post-COVID-19 Scenario, the orders which have not been completed due to the lockdown needs to be completed first. But one of the major concerns is that the industry has to ensure virus free production which will be safe for the country. So, the industry needs to be careful about the handling of material during shipment and transportation to overseas. Keeping this in mind, EPCH will soon issue health and safety standard procedures for the same which we have already started to work upon. Another challenge that industry will face the lack of orders after a few months, said Mr. Rakesh Kumar.
Mr. Rakesh Kumar highlighted that out of our total exports, our major exports about 67% are to the US and European Union which are right now the most infected countries from COVID-19 and now no more effluent destinations for export. We are not sure when our trade with these countries will resume that will hamper the booking of a new export orders from buyers. There will be a fall in consumer demand, and the entire production and value chain will be affected. While the industry will be facing a lot of challenges, but there are a lot of opportunities as well. The domestic sector of the market has to open up and there is a need to promote our handicrafts in other countries particularly new markets such as Latin America and Caribbean Region (LAC) Countries and to the less impacted countries such as New Zealand, and new economies in the CIS Region etc. of the world post-COVID-19. We need to strengthen Make in India and leverage the online platform which will help to boost the handicraft industry.
While we need to focus on business growth, we also need to be careful about the management of our employees and helping them financially. COVID-19 will have a long-term impact on the handicraft industry especially on the weaker section of the society. The government should also come out with a proper stimulus package which can help in providing relief to business and artisans. However, we understand that the revenue and earnings from taxes is limited with the government as of now, but govt has to balance and extend necessary relief to MSMEs, handicrafts sector which a major employment generating sector of India employs over 70 lakhs artisans in the Country.
Mr. Arun Kumar Yadav, Director, Development Commissioner Handicrafts, Ministry of Textiles thanked PHD Chamber for organizing such an informative webinar on such important times. We are committed to the development of all our handicraft sectors.
Mr. Arun Kumar Yadav, divided the Indian Handicraft sector complete value chain into two parts which are backward linkages, and forward linkages. As far as the backward linkages are considered which is the working capacity of artisans, raw material, medical facilities, insurance and others we have issued a lot of schemes for the welfare of the artisans and we are committed to providing all major benefits to artisans in India. As soon as this lockdown will get over, we will get into a rigorous mode of providing all the facilities to the artisans.
In case of the forward’s linkages, the focus will be on export promotions and issues related to marketing related to the manufacturers. We are in full support to provide digital support to the artisans who are showcasing their work digitally. We know that a lot of companies are facing issues and we have taken a note of it. We assure you that we will raise these issues in the appropriate forums and to the concerned ministries and get them to resolve in the best way possible for the smooth working of forwarding linkage, said Mr. Arun Kumar Yadav.
In the beginning, Shri Pradeep Multani, Vice President, PHD Chamber welcomed all the guests and delegates. He highlighted that the Handicraft sector is the major employment generating sector of the Indian economy that employs over 70 Lakh of artisans in the country. Over 60,000 of handicraft exports in India which includes textile craft, leathercraft, and others. Major exports are the US, UK, Australia, UAE, and many others. COVID-19 is badly affecting the world economy and many export orders withdrawn or which has been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Looking at the present situation, there will be a decline in the export of handicrafts but there is an opportunity as various countries are started looking to move to new countries from China due to global retaliation against China. This opportunity can benefit India and the strong advantages may be seen for handicraft sector as well due to shifting from Chine to India. India might get export orders from the US, UAE and other parts of the world, particularly for the textiles crafts, homeware, furniture, lifestyle goods, ceremics for replacement buying from India said Shri Pradeep Multani.
The other eminent speakers who deliberated on Gifts and Handicrafts Sector Export Promotion – Challenges Opportunities and way Forward post COVID-19 were Mr. Avdesh Chandra Agarwal, General Secretary Handicraft Exporters Association, Mr. Sheikh Arif, Saharanpur, Wood Craving Association, Mr. Sidharth Kumar Yadav, Dy. Commissioner Industries, DIC, Saharanpur, and Mr. Anuj Kumar, Dy. Commissioner Industries, DIC, Moradabad, and among others. The speakers expressed the challenges they are facing due to COVID-19 in the export of handicrafts and how they are solving them for the smooth functioning of the business. They also gave their suggestions on mitigating the impact of this pandemic on the export of handicraft and gift industry.
The webinar was moderated by Mr. Naveen Seth, Principal Director, PHD Chamber, and was attend by other senior PHD members and industry stalwarts.
PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry