KATHMANDU, Jan 9: The international market for traditional Nepali metal craft is growing in recent years.
According to government data, export of metal statues increased by 50 percent in the last fiscal year. Nepali metal statues are exported to more than 45 countries.
In Fiscal Year 2015/2016, metals sculptures worth Rs 521 million were exported to different countries. In the previous fiscal year, the country had imported such products worth only Rs 257 million.
Though government data shows that metal craft products worth Rs 521 million was exported in the last fiscal year, traders say such products worth Rs 1 billion has been exported from Nepal during the period. They say that metal crafts purchased by tourists and students personally are not recorded in the government data.
Rabindra Raj Tamrakar, senior vice president of Lalitpur Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said that the value of metal craft exports is nearly double of the government data.
Krishna Raj Bajgain, senior officer of Trade and Export Promotion Center (TEPC), said Nepal usually exports two types of metal crafts -- statue and other ornaments plated with premium metal and statue of bass metal.
Statues worth Rs 123 million was exported in the Fiscal Year 2012/2013, Rs 173 million 2013/2014 and Rs 331 million FY 2014/2015.
Traders say that China is the main market for Nepali metal sculptures. Metal statues worth Rs 439 million were exported to China in the last fiscal year. Export to China has been improving with every passing year, according to the traders.
Traders say hassle in import of raw materials is one of the problems faced by the metal craft industry. The industry sources raw materials mostly from India and Singapore. “Price of raw materials has increased recently. Also, the number of skilled artisans is on the decline,” Tamrakar added.
Metal statues are mainly manufactured in Lalitpur. Though there are only few registered industries producing metal crafts, the number of small and cottage industries involved in the business is very high, according to Tamrakar.