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Handicraft exports out of India is a high growth business. Handicrafts exports touched USD 3.66B in 2016-17, a growth of 11% over FY16 in USD terms. In Re terms exports grew 13.8% to Rs245B in FY17, as compared to Rs216B in FY16. These figures does not include export of carpets, which is another sizeable market by itself.
Over and above the handicraft exports, India exported around USD1.8B of carpets an floor coverings. A major portion of this is handmade.
Growth rates for both – handicrafts and carpets – are healthy. Over FY10-17, handicraft exports have grown at ~15% in USD terms. Over FY97-17, a 20 year period, handicraft exports have grown at 10.2% CAGR in Re terms. Growth rate of carpets is slower, but impressive nonetheless. Exports of carpets have grown at 5% in USD terms over the last 5 years, and 13% in INR terms
Most of the exports go to developed markets like USA, UK, Germany and Japan. UAE is also a key market. USA accounts for 26% of handicraft and 50% of carpet exports. UK, Germany, Japan and UAE all account for 5-10% each.
The healthy growth rate is a good sign for Indian artisans. This sector a large employment generator. According to a study commissioned by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), the sector employed as many 9.6m people. It has created over 2 million jobs in the last 3 years according to NSDC data. The sector accounts for 15-20% of India’s manufacturing employment. This includes supplies to domestic market, which though is a smaller and less attractive market compared to exports.
Despite the gains made in export growth, India’s share of global handicraft market remains miniscule. According to a media interview given by a senior official The Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH), size of the global market is USD 235B. Of this, some is produced and consumed locally. For example USA itself produces USD44B of handicrafts locally, and most likely consumes that locally. It is estimated that global export market could be in excess of USD100B. China is believed to have more than 30% share of the global trade market.
One reason for the small share of Indian handicraft is the fragmented nature of supply chain. The trade is catered to by around 9000 exporter, with maybe not more than 50 companies with revenues of over Rs 1B (USD15m). Their mode of selling is largely through trade shows. The long tail market, or the small retailer in developed countries is not catered to by the Indian exporter.
The report gives a brief overview of the Indian handicraft export business, the key government agencies and private sector companies involved in the same. It also touched upon the global market and some online companies which are created digital marketplaces for handmades.