The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Elizabeth Thabethe says the craft sector supports the South African government's national priorities such as women empowerment, rural and urban development, small enterprise development, export promotion and the local beneficiation of products.
She was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 32nd India International Trade Fair in New Delhi today.
"It is precisely for this reason that the craft sector in South African has been identified as a strategic sector in our Industrial Policy Action Plan. The plan focuses on scaling up efforts to promote long-term industrialisation and industrial diversification beyond the current reliance of traditional commodities and non-tradable services. The craft sector has the potential to create jobs due to its low entry barriers," said Thabethe.
She added that South Africa boasted deep-rooted cultural traditions in the field of arts and crafts, and emphasised that the craft heritage was a major asset in economic terms in that it generates jobs, household income and stimulates local, particularly rural economic development.
"The sector also complements our tourism industry and provides a bridge between informal and formal employment. It also provides innovation and design skills to other sectors such as clothing, textile, furniture and jewellery," said Thabethe.
Deputy Minister Thabethe expressed optimism and confidence that South Africa's participation in the India fair would lead to greater awareness of the country's capabilities in the crafts market and an increase in the supply of the products to India and the neighbouring countries.
"It will also lead to greater cooperation and friendship between South Africa and India which both share and cherish the ideals of freedom and democracy," Thabethe concluded.
The fair was opened by the President of India Mr Pranab Mukherjee and it will run until 27 November. Thirty-three (33) South African crafters are exhibiting their products and more than 60 countries are participating in it.