1020 GMT February 17, 2020
Iran was chosen by vote to host the gathering of World Craft Council Asia Pacific Region, said Fereydoun Mirzalou, the head of Bureau for Supporting Handicrafts.
In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Mirzalou said the members of the council are Japan, China, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Oman, Kuwait, Indonesia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Australia.
"The council is made up of nations which have a long history of producing crafts," he said, adding annual meetings aim to diversify the handicraft industry in the world.
The official said the members have called for holding the gathering in Tabriz, East Azarbaijan Province because it has been recognized as the World Carpet City.
"They have also called on Iran to organize a handicraft exhibition on the sidelines of the event to make foreign participants familiar with the diversity of crafts in Iran," he said, adding the meeting is slated for April 27-30, 2016.
Mirzalou said private investors make up a majority of the participants since the private sector plays a major role in enhancing the status of handicrafts in all nations.
The official mentioned some of the achievements of the last meeting, which was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
"Member states decided to compile an encyclopedia — both in both on paper and in virtual forms — to introduce crafts to the world," he said.
Mirzalou described the future of Iran's handicraft sector as promising in light of the lifting of Western sanctions.
"Resumption of trade ties with European and Asian countries, following the removal of sanctions, will contribute to the growth of the handicrafts sector," he explained.
He said India and China are Iran's main rivals in the field of handicrafts.
"Support for domestic producers will lead to the promotion of handicraft industry in Iran," he said.
The official said 300,000 handicraft producers have enrolled on Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization website.
"Artisans can avail banking facilities to purchase materials and equipments," he said.
The Ministry of Cooperative, Labor and Social Welfare has set aside a fund amounting to $100 million to promote self-employment and stay-at-home jobs in the year to March 2016, the official pointed out.
"$10 million out of the total $100 million was allocated to individuals involved in craft making," he added.
The official said a number of handicrafts are on the verge of extinction due to unavailability of materials and equipments.
He noted his department is only responsible for assisting workshops which are operating.