Afghanistan to boost carpet production as demand rises, especially from China

Special Afghanistan to boost carpet production as demand rises, especially from China
A vendor displays a rug at his shop in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. (AFP)
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Updated 18 July 2023

Afghanistan to boost carpet production as demand rises, especially from China

Afghanistan to boost carpet production as demand rises, especially from China
  • Ministry reveals exports of carpets reached $20m in 2022
  • China seen as increasingly lucrative market for Afghan carpet weavers

KABUL: Afghanistan is planning to boost carpet production throughout the country, its Ministry of Industry and Commerce said on Tuesday, with targets to employ 1.5 million people in the sector to meet rising demand, especially from China.

Afghan rugs are known for their quality and craftsmanship, but demand has taken a sharp dip since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in 2021 and with the nation’s economy teetering on the brink of collapse.

In 2022, the Afghan carpet industry made “a great achievement” as exports reached $20 million, with production taking place in 18 provinces and the sector employing more than 1 million people, ministry spokesman Abdul Salam Jawad told Arab News.

“Last year, the export of carpets through the ports of different provinces of Afghanistan was very great,” Jawad said. “The plan is to start sewing carpets throughout the country this year.”

Carpets were top items during Afghan trade exhibitions both at home and abroad, he added, with China, Pakistan, Turkiye, and the UAE cited among the key markets for the product.

“During exhibitions held in India and China, carpets got the first position,” Jawad said.

“This year, we plan to provide employment to 1.5 million people in the carpets industry.

“Because the unemployment rate in Afghanistan has increased so much, we want to provide employment to people in 34 provinces of the country through carpet weaving.”

Afghanistan’s unemployment rate may be as high as 30 percent, according to global charity organization Human Concern International.

The rising demand for Afghan carpets has benefitted local producers, with China considered an increasingly lucrative market.

“China is a good market for Afghanistan’s carpets,” Dil Jam Manan Qassimy, chief executive of carpet exports company Qassimy Brothers Carpet Co., told Arab News.

“In recent years, carpet exports to China decreased a lot but after issuance of Chinese visas for Afghans resumed, there has been a significant change in the export of carpets,” Qassimy said.

“The Chinese are very wealthy people; they are very good customers of our carpets. The carpets we make are very expensive, and in terms of quality, they are very high. Chinese people are very interested in our carpets and are always willing to buy them, so China is an interesting market for Afghan carpets.”

To meet international demand, some carpet weavers have had to make changes to traditional designs.

“Afghanistan’s old carpets and old colors do not have an international market, they are only sold in Afghanistan,” Mohammad Walizada, director of an Afghan rug company in Kabul, told Arab News.

“We have recently made some necessary changes in our work based on the demand of the time, during which we have attracted the attention of many Chinese buyers,” he said.

Walizada, who has been in the carpet industry for 30 years, noted that he had taken part in exhibitions in China, from which his customer base has increased.

“We are dispatching our new carpet model to China based on demand from Chinese traders,” he said, adding that about 15 percent of his goods were bought by Chinese customers.

“Export of Afghan carpets to China has been increasing these days.”