An Economic Assessment of Asian Crafts
Asia and the Pacific has undergone rapid economic growth and many countries are able to compete at the global level. Up until now crafts have kept many elements of traditional production, but they are under increasing threat from globalized tastes and industrialization. The paper argues that governments should adopt strategies to support crafts against these trends. Firstly Asian craft production follows the patterns of sustainable development. Data from surveys in several countries also indicates that craft production still meets a substantially local demand, and that financial support for production is also substantially local. Craft producers are very creative but are usually from an older generation with lower levels of education, making their occupation very vulnerable in modernizing societies. However, when such craft skills are able to access international markets, as in the case of Thai jewellery, they can be extremely competitive. Craft production in Asia thus presents a unique sustainable mode of production that can, if supported, be a key cultural asset and an element of future local and national competitiveness.
KeywordsAsian crafts Craft production Sustainable development Financial support
Acknowledgements and Note on Sources
Simon Ellis worked on national statistics in Thailand 2012–2014 for UNESCO, and in the Philippines 2015–2017 for the Non-Timber Forest Product Group. This research involved direct collaboration with the national statistics offices of Thailand and the Philippines, as well as a Visiting Lectureship at Institute of Statistics, University of the Philippines at Diliman in April 2017.
Joseph Lo is currently a Curator for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. He was the lead technical officer for the implementation of craft surveys in Bhutan, China 2009/2010, and Indonesia 2014 for UNESCO and UNDP.
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