Upon invitation of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has, for the first time participated with 12 exhibitors comprising artisans, designers, women entrepreneurs and incense manufacturers at the Taipei Gift and Stationery Fair from 19-22 April 2012 at Taipei World Trade Center, Taiwan.
The uniquely set up Bhutan pavilion displayed a wide range of indigenous Bhutanese products including incense sticks, incense powder, herbal tea, bio-products, buckwheat, dried mushroom, hand-woven textiles, handicrafts, souvenirs, thangka paintings, dhapa from Trashi Yangtse, and cane and bamboo products from Kangpara and Kheng that enticed a large number of local and international visitors as well as wholesale buyers.
The core objectives behind participating at this fair, according to the BCCI were to explore market opportunities for indigenous Bhutanese products in Taiwan, to establish business linkages with the Taiwanese as well as exhibitors from other countries, to gain exposure at the international market for creative industry products and other indigenous Bhutanese products, to learn from other exhibitors in terms of product design, packaging and marketing strategies and finally to contribute to hard currency earnings from exports.
About 459 companies from across South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Bhutan, Nepal and Europe participated at the mega fair.
The event helped create the market potential for Bhutanese products in Taiwan. The cost of participation was shared between the BCCI and the exhibitors while the Agency for Promotion of Indigenous Crafts (APIC) sponsored payment for two booths. Upon request of the BCCI, the accommodation and other logistics were supported by the Buddhist Higher Studies and Meditational Centre in Taiwan. All the exhibitors returned home satisfied as all the sample products amounting to USD 70,000 were sold out.
While most of the exhibitors were selected from Thimphu Craft Bazaar, some were selected from other regions.
The President of TAITRA, Mr. Yuen- Chuan Chao who visited the Bhutan Pavilion was deeply impressed with the Bhutanese products and encouraged the exhibitors to participate in future exhibitions as well.
The incense manufacturers, thangka painters and herbal tea producer received some orders from the buyers. However, customer feedback received at the fair was for the need to improve the packaging of Bhutanese products. They also advised the exhibitors to develop a website for future business contacts as most of the exhibitors did not have websites and even email addresses. BCCI and Taiwan External Trade Development Council will sign a MoU sometime this year in order to facilitate business between the two countries.
BCCI also intends to coordinate Bhutan’s participation at the Singapore Giftionery Fair which will take place from 15-17 August 2012 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, Singapore and Taipei Buddhist Appliances and Sculptures Exhibition to be held at the Taipei World Trade Center from 7-10 September 2012.
Meanwhile, the BCCI is preparing to host the 3rd Bhutan Construction Expo 2012 from 13-17 June 2012 and the 3rd Bhutan International Trade Fair from 19-23 September 2012 respectively at the Changlimithang Stadium, Thimphu.