Greater push for handicraft exports

Economy October 29, 2012 00:00


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Thai handicraft products with new innovations will be aggressively promoted internationally with the aim to boost incomes for local people as well as export revenue.

The Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand (Sacict) recently said its plan for next year would be to promote innovation in arts and crafts, as the industry needs to shift to making value-added products.

Pimpapaan Chansilpa, CEO of Sacict, said the industry can no longer produce standard or plain design products, as that market is highly competitive and the products can be easily copied.

The organisation has launched a project called “Thai Navatasilp: Innovative Art of Thai Crafts” to help local handicraft entrepreneurs adopt new technology and develop creative designs for their products. The project has also helped design new packaging to appeal to more customers.

Already 219 products have been developed based on the project’s concept. Producers have adopted new technology for weaving and painting combined with traditional Thai production and design so that the products have become more interesting and attractive to customers in many countries.

According to United Nations data, Thai handicraft exports will reach about US$600 million this year. However, the organisation expects over $1 billion with stronger recognition of Thai handicrafts and higher value of the products.

Although both Europe and the United States are under economic strain, exports to both markets have kept up well. This may be because Thai handicrafts serve a particular group of consumers –those in the middle- to upper-income levels.

According to Sacict, the US is the biggest overseas market for Thai arts and crafts, trailed by Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Japan. However, Indonesia and India have been gaining in share of Thai exports in the past few years due to their robust economies and greater recognition of the unique designs and innovations of Thai products.

Sacict plans to encourage Thai producers to join many international trade fairs abroad and at home. It will also negotiate with many businesses such as residences, hotels and office buildings to employ Thai arts and crafts for decoration.

It will form partnerships with local handicraft shops in other countries to sell Thai arts and crafts.

For the festive New Year season, Sacict has launched innovative gifts in special packages to serve the various demands of markets. Prices range from about Bt400 to more than Bt2,000 per item.

Sacict is highly confident that Thai arts and crafts will make impressive presents for any special occasion, he added.