Resurgence in handicraft sector

Iran’s exports of handicrafts have risen by 36% so far this year (started March 21) compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, according to an official at Iran’s Cultural heritage Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

“We’ve reached a critical point where our decisions will greatly impact the future of the sector,” IRNA quoted Bahman Namvar Motlaq, deputy for handicraft affairs at the ICHHTO, as saying at the weekend in an annual meeting with provincial handicraft officials in Tehran.

He commended provincial officials for their hard work and praised them for their ability to help develop the industry and boost exports “with minimal facilities at [their] disposal”.

Iran’s handicraft industry grew by 11% in the March 21 – September 22, 2015 period, relative to the same period in 2014.
Motlaq recalled the negative effects of the western-imposed sanctions on Iran and noted their damaging impact on the industry.

“But thanks to your efforts, the industry is on track to recovery.”

He stressed the importance of following through with projects aimed at expanding the industry in the post-sanctions era and urged provincial authorities to “be open to constructive criticism and suggestions.”

In September, it was announced that over 2 trillion rials ($56 million) has been allocated to the handicraft sector this year for low-interest loans to artisans.

The loans will be granted for cottage industries, handicraft workshops in rural and urban areas and businesses dealing with handicrafts.

At least 10 trillion rials ($280 million) are needed to jumpstart the handicraft industry.

According to the Management and Planning Organization, over 60% of the ICHHTO handicrafts projects have been executed.

“Once the Handicrafts Exporters Association is established by the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines, the sector’s growth will improve further,” Motlaq said.

Whereas ICHHTO policy in the past focused primarily on production, under the Rouhani administration the organization has shifted its attention towards marketing and export.

“That’s not to say we’re neglecting production,” he added.

The organization aims to turn the handicrafts sector into a billion-dollar industry, which is why special attention is given to Iranian crafts in the sixth five-year economic development plan (2016-21).

The recent declaration of Tabriz and Isfahan as “World Craft City” by the World Craft Council is expected to help promote traditional Iranian handicrafts and, by extension, boost tourism.

ICHHTO has been following the mantra “Each province, an international brand; each city, a national brand” for the past two years. The global recognition for Isfahan and Tabriz may encourage the organization to help other Iranian cities receive the same acknowledgement.

By Financial Tribune