The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry has announced plans to establish a Handicrafts Export Council in order to increase exports and strengthen competitiveness in the international market.
Handicrafts draw on the traditional artisanal skills and materials to create such products as silk carpets, hand-made pottery and Islamic art.
“Handicrafts are considered one of [the economy’s] ‘vital industry sectors.’,” said Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour. “The sector’s major importance comes as it is a heavily labour-intensive and a major employer, it also does not require large funds to operate.”
These statements came during the inauguration ceremony of the Turathna (Our Heritage) Exhibition on Saturday, which was hosted by the Social Fund for Development (SFD) in collaboration with the Indian embassy in Cairo.
Abdel Nour was quoted in the statement as saying that “this exhibition came to support the handicrafts sector, which has suffered from recession due to its relationship to tourism, which was has been negatively affected by recent events.” He further stressed the significance of raising efficiency in production in order to prepare these producers for export.
Egypt’s non-petroleum exports increased by 12% in the past 11 months to register EGP 134.7bn, up from EGP 120.7bn in the corresponding period last year, Abdel Nour said earlier this month.
According to an official statement from the ministry, this increase indicates that non-petroleum exports are on track to achieve the government’s goal of doubling imports in the coming year.
“This exhibition gave small and medium local handicraft projects an opportunity to market their products as well make them aware of development possibilities,” the statement said.
SFD Secretary General Ghada Waly said the exhibition was held with the participation of nine NGOs and more than 45 producers of handicrafts.
“Egypt and India have a long relationship of cooperation in encouraging small and medium size enterprises, and this exhibition has continued this tradition,” Navdeep Suri, the Indian Ambassador to Egypt, was quoted in the statement as saying.