Limited access to markets is one of the main obstacles to the growth of crafts and small industries (CSI) in the country, according to a study by the Department of Crafts and Small Industries.
The study, which was conducted in May, indicates that the country’s CSIs are relatively unprepared and under-resourced when it comes to marketing their products in international markets. “There is an imminent need to establish a dedicated market outside of Bhutan to access global markets,” he says.
The feasibility of establishing CSI markets in countries that have imported substantial volumes of Bhutanese products has been explored, he says.
The study showed that it was possible to establish CSI markets in Thailand, Bangladesh, the United States of America and Australia. The markets were identified based on the value and types of CSI products exported to the countries over the past three years and the country’s diplomatic relations with them.
The study recommends selecting interested CSIs and establishing two CSI markets outside Bhutan under the 12th plan.
It is recommended that sponsors of CSI products that have not been certified contact the relevant agencies to have their products certified to be eligible for export to international CSI markets.
The department is expected to bear rental and hiring costs for the first six months, the cost of basic market furnishings and the cost of shipping for establishing CSI outside of Bhutan at the start.
The department will also bear expenses related to CSI attendance at trade fairs, trial marketing, standardization and certification of products with Bhutan Bureau of Standards and Agriculture Regulatory Authority and Food of Bhutan, among other activities.
Agro-based products constitute 45 percent of the total CSI products exported from the country. Forest products, mineral products and handicrafts account for 41 percent, 8 percent and 6 percent of total exports respectively.
The study identified kiwi juice, kombucha, yacon, sea buckthorn, yellow docks, alcoholic beverages, coffee, candies, local flours, handmade paper, shilajit, souvenirs and books as potential exports.
“The initial focus is on CSI products, but the coverage could be expanded to include all Bhutanese products based on demand, scale and quality in the near future. This would help diversify the visibility of authentic Bhutanese products in the global market,” the report said.
The report says that amid the challenges at the national and international levels, the government has made efforts to help CSIs penetrate international markets to reap the benefits of the global economy.
CSIs account for about 95% of the total industries in Bhutan. As of June 15, 2022, there were 26,945 active licensed CSIs in the country.