Laos suppliers offering wooden crafts suited to modern lifestyle

Makers are expanding their product range to include items such as name card holders and smartphone cases.

May 10, 2017

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Makers are expanding their product range to include items such as name card holders and smartphone cases.

Laos wooden crafts

Wooden craft suppliers in Laos use various types of timber, including ebony, teak, padauk and rosewood. (L-R: Wooden crafts from Lao Design, C-King Handicraft, Phetsamone Handicraft and Houngchaleun Handicraft)

Laos artisans create various wooden products, most of which go to local temples and the tourism industry—both in Laos and abroad. To reach more markets, many suppliers are expanding their selections to include small, everyday items that will suit the modern lifestyle. Among the latest releases in line with the strategy are wooden cases for smartphones, name cards, lighters and cigarettes.

One of the factors supporting makers in their efforts to offer a wider variety of products and expand market reach is their access to skilled craftsmen. With Laos’ long history of woodworking, carvers whose skills have been passed down from previous generations are found across the country.

Suppliers also benefit from being able to source their wood requirements locally. Laos’ forest cover was estimated at 9.5 million hectares in 2010, or 40 percent of its total land area, according to information posted on the REDD desk, citing the country’s Department of Forestry. Laos aims to bring back forest cover to 70 percent of the land area by 2020.

Another factor enabling wooden craft makers to grow their businesses is the support that the handicraft sector receives from the government and private organizations. Laos, for example, has signed free trade agreements with several countries, including Vietnam and Thailand. As a member of the ASEAN, it is also a signatory of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and the ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (ASEAN-ANZ FTA).

The Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), in cooperation with the Lao Handicraft Association and other groups, organizes festivals, trade shows and other events to promote Laos handicrafts to local and foreign buyers.

The Lao Handicraft Association’s efforts include working with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) to improve the quality of local products and boost exports. Under the Gift Project, experts from Japan conducted seminars that provided Laos makers information on packaging, product development and trends.

This article and its contents are provided by the Hinrich Foundation, a partner of Global Sources in promoting trade across Asia. The products and the suppliers featured in this article are export assistance program beneficiaries of the Hinrich Foundation.

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