Rs666m worth of felt shipped in 5 monthsExports of felt products jumped 82 percent in the first five months of the current fiscal year on soaring orders particularly from Japan, the US and different European countries.
Exports of felt products jumped 82 percent in the first five months of the current fiscal year on soaring orders particularly from Japan, the US and different European countries.
Nepal shipped felt products worth Rs666.7 million between mid-July and mid-December in fiscal 2016-17, according to the latest data provided by the Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal (Fhan). Felt exports totalled Rs366.2 million during the same period in the last fiscal year.
Exports of felt products have swelled due to excellent marketing in European markets such as Germany and the UK by some big handicraft companies, said Pragyan Khanal, a senior data analyst at Fhan.
Demand for these products has also remained high in countries such as Japan, the US, the Netherlands and France, according to companies that are exporting felt products.
Felt is a textile that is manufactured by rolling and pressing unwoven wool. Nepal generally imports wool from New Zealand and Australia to produce felt, which is then converted into various products such as handbags, hats, shoes, decorative pieces, coin purses, pencil holders, cushion covers and toys.
Demand for Nepal-made felt products has been growing consistently in the international market for the last seven years.
Nepal exported felt products worth Rs352.5 million in fiscal year 2009-10. The figure jumped to Rs1.1 billion in the last fiscal year.
As international demand for felt products is soaring, they now account for more than a fifth of the country’s total handicraft export earnings. Around seven years ago, felt products accounted for around a 10th of handicraft export revenues.
Felt products have now emerged as the second highest foreign currency earner among handicraft products.
“Most foreigners prefer items such as mufflers, belts, hats and shoes made of felt. These goods are most popular in Europe,” said Hari Khadka, proprietor of Unique Creative Exports.
Over the years, countries like Germany have also been re-exporting felt products manufactured in Nepal which is pushing up demand, according to Sitaram Panday, owner of Oxford Craft.
“But lately, felt products manufactured in China and India have started posing stiff competition to Nepal because of export-friendly policies adopted by their governments,” said Panday without elaborating.
However, not all felt producers in Nepal are seeing a rise in exports. “Exporting felt products is no more profitable for us because of labour problems here,” said Raj Basnet, owner of Felt and Yarn. “Also, problems at customs, strikes and frequent public holidays prevent us from meeting product delivery dates given to us by our clients abroad.”