Businesses across Nepal continue to reel under severe implications of the coronavirus pandemic despite the resumption of business activities after a hiatus for six months.
The nationwide lockdown followed by trade restrictions severely impacted small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) like handcraft that accounted for a larger share of Nepal’s foreign exchange earnings.
According to the Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal, the country’s handicraft exports are expected to drop by 70% next year as orders plunged significantly due to the pandemic.
“Handicraft products whose shipments were put on hold during the lockdown are being dispatched to their destinations gradually. But new orders are not coming from major buyers,” said Dharma Raj Shakya, former president of the Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal.
Over 70% of the handicraft products that were put on hold have been exported in the last three months.
“But it will be difficult to maintain the same pace in the coming months with the decline in new orders from the international market. The slowdown in orders will impact the export trade next year, and it is expected that 70% of the handicraft export business will be lost,” said Shakya.
According to the Federation, Nepali handicraft exports dropped by 32% to NPR 3.64 billion in the last fiscal 2019-20 from NPR 5.37 billion in the previous fiscal year.
Even the domestic handicraft market has witnessed low demand as tourist arrivals in the country dropped significantly due to the pandemic.
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“As the pandemic has caused the domestic consumption of Nepali handicraft to plunge by more than 80 percent, the handicraft shops are not able to re-start their operations as there are no sales like before,” said Surendra Bhai Shakya, President of the Federation.
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