Pashmina exports likely to show improvement

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, June 22:

Despite a steady decrease in the export of Pashmina over the past three years, entrepreneurs and exporters are hoping for a rebound in one of the largest exportable commodities soon. "Although figures show a gloomy trend, Pashmina exports are doing relatively well in recent months," says Shanker Prasad Pandey, president of Nepal Pashmina Industry Association. A good sign noticed during the first nine months of the current fiscal year, as Pashmina exporters put it, is that the rate of decline has been gradually slowing down. Pashmina exports have been plunging since 2001 after a boom in 1999 and 2000.

Pashmina export, the largest handicrafts item to be exported, amonuted to Rs 560 million during the period, a decline from Rs 650 million recorded during the same period last year. "Segregation of Pashmina with other woollen products, which is not reflected in the total figure, is also one reason," clarifies Pandey.

According to him, export of Pashmina and its products worth about Rs 900-950 million are expected within this fiscal year, which is still low than that of one billion rupees in fiscal 2002-03. However, Narayan Gurung, a handloom Pashmina manufacturer and exporter, predicts that future of the once world famous Nepali Pashmina is at a critical juncture due to a heavy decline in exports over the last few years. "Export of Pashmina is decreasing primarily due to low quality and failure in diversifying market concentration," he adds.

Export of Nepali Pashmina started on a commercial scale some 10 years back but came to real prominence only after 1997. Nepal exported Pashmina worth about Rs 286.1 million six years ago and exports reached its peak in 1999-2000 with it worth reaching over Rs 5.66 billion. This unprecedented boom resulted in the mushrooming of Pashmina industries, which stoked fierce competition, leading alos to low quality production. As a result, exports decreased slightly during the fiscal year 2000-01 and came down to around Rs 5.64 billion. Since then the Nepali Pashmina industry has suffered heavy losses in terms of exports.

Hit by global economic downturn, domestic turmoil and decrease in quality, Pashmina exports plunged by 78.5 per cent in 2001-02, compared to the previous year. Pashmina worth over Rs 1.41 billion was exported during this period. It is said that the demand for Nepali Pashmina increased drastically in the international market, following use of Pashmina shawls by Hollywood stars. It further increased, when the Queen of Great Britain Elizabeth II appeared in public functions wearing Nepali Pashmina shawls.