Chittagong, Bangladesh: Smuggled handloom items from Burma have seriously affected most Rakhines’ home-industrial units under Kalapara upazila in Patuakhali in Bangladesh. The smuggled goods are attractive in design and cheap, according to local sources.

Many local and foreign tourists visiting the Kuakata tourist resort prefer smuggled handloom products rather than locally made goods. 

Some local people said the handloom industry would be totally destroyed if smuggling of handloom products into the country from Burma was not checked.

They added that some locally influential people were involved in smuggling handloom products from Burma with the support of the police.

“We, the craftswomen of the Rakhine community are mainly engaged in producing ornamental saris, bed covers, longies, bags and other products. We have been facing lots of difficulties in running our business mainly due to high prices of raw materials and limited funds,” one of the craftswomen said.

Our handloom products were in big demand in all parts of the country. Our products also found a good market in Burma. Those days are gone now,” a woman into handloom products said with regret.

In the past, there were more than 1,000 handloom units of the Rakhain community under the upazila. But their number has decreased to 85 over the years. Many Rakhines have given up their traditional business of making handloom products because of difficulties in getting bank loans, high prices of raw materials and stiff competition from smuggled goods, she added.

Daw Hla Nu, a craftswoman of Kernipara, said most of the remaining handlooms in different areas would be closed down due to financial crisis.