Nepali carpets losing out globally

Kathmandu, August 27:

Nepali carpets are losing out in the world market and those in this sector think it needs resuscitation by the government.

Nepal Carpet Exporters’ Association (NCEA) along with Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) jointly held an interaction to highlight the problems in and prospects of Nepali carpet export.

“During 1993-94, Nepali exported 3.326 million square metres of carpets as it was a new product for buyers and there was no international competition. It was cheaper than traditional carpets like Persian rugs. At that time, carpet making was also regarded as a cottage industry, was income tax free and had GSP facility from importing countries,” said Surendra Dhakal, chief executive officer at NCEA. He added, “In 2007-08 Nepal exported only 1.136 million square metres of carpets. This is an erosion of 65.8 per cent in 15 years. However, it still earns foreign currency equal to Rs 6,000 million.”

According to Dhakal, the erosion of 65.8 per cent in 15 years is mainly because the government imposed tax on earning from export, competition with cheaper Indian carpets which is known as “Indo-Nepal Syndrome, non-effective economic diplomacy and market promotional campaign.”

Though the Nepali carpet industries give greater employment opportunities to rural people, especially women, and helps decrease mass poverty and the government is aware of this sector’s significance, there is a lack of initiatives and encouragment from its government’s side, Dhakal said.

NCEA representatives urged the government to find ways to solve the problem faced by the Nepali carpet sector and waive unnecessary fee regimes and documents that contradict WTO prescriptions. They also called for introducing a unique national label, creating a ministry for international affairs and trade by appointing professionals in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and creating a lobbying cell in the ministry with legal practitioners of international academic standards to plead Nepal’s trade interest in the DSB of WTO.