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Nepal: Pashmina exports rebound with focus on qualityThursday, August 07, 2014 > 08:36:25
Nepali pashmina is doing well again in the international market despite facing stiff competition from other countries, said traders. Manufacturers had been trying to boost business and come out of an extended slump by creating new design ranges, and their efforts have been rewarded with rising sales from the last fiscal year.
According to the macro-economic report published by Nepal Rastra Bank, pashmina exports jumped 30 percent in the first 10 months of this fiscal. Shipments of pashmina amounted to Rs 1.6 billion during the review period.
Nepali pashmina faces tough competition from Chinese and Indian exporters, but sales have been swelling due to the greater concentration on quality, said entrepreneurs.
According to them, shawls, stoles and scarves in natural, multi-colour and artistic designs are the most popular Nepali pashmina products among importers. The country’s once vibrant pashmina industry had plunged into a prolonged downturn after some traders began shipping poor quality products to the international market which hurt importer confidence. Entrepreneurs complain-ed foreign manufacturers had also been selling low quality pashmina with Made in Nepal tags on them which damaged the image of the entire industry. Presently, Nepali pashmina producers are exporting Nepali goods under the collective trademark Chyangra which guarantees their quality.
Parbati Shrestha, proprietor of Palanchowk Bhagawati Pashmina Industry, said that their exports had jumped 50 percent last year. “We sold pashmina products worth Rs 3 million last year,” she said. Palanchowk Bhagawati has been in the pashmina business for 16 years and employs 10 people.
Shrestha said that effective marketing during various national and international expos also boosted exports. According to her, Nepali pashmina is famous in many European countries and China and Japan. “We have been focusing on designing new products everyday,” she said.
Hem Ratna Shakya, president of the Federation of Handicrafts Association of Nepal (FHAN), said that the branding of Chyangra pashmina had helped to push up sales. “The Chyangra pashmina brand helped to ensure that Nepali pashmina in general have quality and foreigners are preferring Nepali pashmina,” he added. The Nepal Pashmina Industries Association has registered the Chyangra pashmina brand in 41 countries including major export markets like the US and Europe.
Meanwhile, traders said that the pashmina industry had been facing many challenges in terms of raw materials. “We have been importing raw materials from China, and sometimes inconsistencies in their quality have affected the quality of the final product,” said Shakya.
Manufacturers also face a higher cost of production in Nepal due to the small scale of the industry while mass production in India and China means lower production costs there. According to the FHAN, pashmina products account for the third largest export earnings among handicraft products. Nepal exports pashmina products containing a 70:30 blend of wool and silk.