Pakistan hand-knotted carpet industry has made
tremendous growth over the years and contributing significantly to the
export earnings of the country. This cottage industry, using 100 per
cent locally produced raw material, techniques, color and designs, has
adapted itself wonderfully to the changing world market requirements.
Recently, as a policy to enhance accessibility to
Pakistan products in the US market, the US House of Representatives has
passed a trade bill that would eliminate duties on hand-knotted carpets
which may give a boost to carpet exports from Pakistan. This incentive
of duty reduction or elimination would last until 2005.
Pakistan would be the major beneficiary of the
provision, which adds handmade rugs to the Generalized System of
preferences program, which allows designated developing countries to
sell their goods in the United States without paying import duty. Rugs
from Turkey, Nepal, Egypt and Moscow would also qualify for the duty
The approval cut in duty on Pakistan hand-knotted
carpets by US authorities will help regaining the lost market share in
the US market by at least 5 to 6 per cent.
US are the biggest market for Pakistan hand-knotted
carpets followed by the European market. The proposed duty cut is around
2 to 2.5 per cent, which will reasonably reduce prices of Pakistani
carpets in the US.
The circular for duty cut has reached Export
Promotion Bureau. USA has reduced this duty on Pakistan proposal, which
was submitted by Commerce Minister Abdul Razzak Dawood, one and a
half-year ago. Pakistan must focus on US market to get maximum share.
The carpet manufacturers are planning to organize a carpet exhibition in
the US to further popularize new designs and color schemes. US have a
market of over 60 per cent of the total carpets produced in Pakistan.
Pakistan exported hand-knotted carpets worth 90
million dollars during 2002 compared to 127 million dollars in the year
2001, showing a decline of 41 per cent.
It may be mentioned that as fallout of the events of
September 11, the export of Pakistan carpets to US had declined by 37
million-dollar last year which was duly brought to the notice of the US
officials by the Commerce Minister Razzak Dawood. Hopefully, the recent
duty cut will not only help make up this fall but likely to enhance
export of this value added item to the US market.
Pakistani carpet exporters have to undertake hectic
marketing campaign in the US market, as American importers are not
visiting Pakistan due to travel guide since September 11.
Indian exporters have taken over some of the Pakistan
share in US carpet market since September 11, however, the incentive of
duty cut would help regaining the lost share provided the exporters as
well as the government bodies like Export Promotion Bureau played
smartly to carve a better place for our products through aggressive and
effective marketing campaigns in that choosy market.
Previously, Pakistan used to weave the "Sehna"
knots which produce a particular kind of surface. However, now with the
application of other knots like Ghiordes new designs of carpet are
increasingly employed with Tajik, Turkmen, Uzbek and other oriental
techniques lending their own special touch and mood. New experiments are
also be made with warp and weft to make them more pliable.
As a result of application of new techniques, a great
improvement has taken place in the quality of wool that is used in
carpet weaving. In addition to the traditional varieties the Cholistan
wool, Ghazni and other superior wool varieties known for their toughness
and softness are also being used for making the new product.
Pakistan hand-knotted rugs are highly valued in the
US and EU markets as they are a good investment, long lasting and are
good value for money. Market value of these carpets appreciates with the
passage of time. Old rugs made hundreds of year ago are considered
priceless works of art and command fabulous prices in the international
While buying an antique carpet it is necessary to
thoroughly check it for its age, brittleness, stains and moth damage.
New, beautifully executed carpets are also a good hedge against
inflation. With wages and wool prices going up and the purchasing power
of the money under considerable pressure, rugs are bound to appreciate
in value in coming years.
Return of the Afghan refugees to their home country
is a recent setback to this industry, as these afghan craftsmen have
their own style, designs and color scheme combination with Iran, and
Central Asian cultures. Pakistan carpet industry had made a quantum jump
with the addition of the Afghan carpet weavers. However, training
centers and digital technology being used in this craftsmanship has
greatly helped improving the quality of Pakistani carpets.
Located for the most part in the countryside, the
Pakistan carpet industry is basically cottage in character and employees
over a million weavers, dyers, washers, clippers and others associated
with the trade. Carpet making helps fight unemployment and poverty in
rural backwaters where few openings for gainful occupation are
available. In many backward and underdeveloped regions it is the only
source of livelihood for people. Many young people who cannot acquire
education because of lack of resources become productive members of the
society by learning the art of carpet making.