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Craft villages on the verge of bankruptcy   2012-04-11 - VietNamNet

The Vietnam Craft Village Association has repeatedly warned about the decline of famous craft villages. Some villages stay alive, but cannot sell products due to the market narrowing. Others have shut down their production or laid off workers.


Phu Tuc commune in Phu Xuyen district in Hanoi has been well-known with its bamboo made handicraft products. In the heyday of the village, Phu Tuc was described as an “industrial zone,” with big scale household run workshops. Local residents got rich with their career, while a lot of billionaires appeared, who drove cars and contacted with foreign importers through Internet.

However, things have changed so dramatically. The village has become quieter, because many workshops have shut down, while many local residents have left the village, trying to earn their money in other localities.

The global economic crisis, the domestic demand decreases and the weak competitiveness all have put big difficulties for Phu Tuc. While foreign customers tighten their belt in the crisis, the input production costs keep rising, thus making the products unsalable. Local residents fear that if Phu Tuc is not rescued, the traditional career of making products from bamboo, descended by the ancestors, would disappear one day.

They have every reason to worry about that. In fact, many other craft villages have died already after a long time of struggling to survive.

The story of Phu Tuc has recalled a bad news in Quang Nam province. In January 2012, the province had to give tens of tons of rice to the local residents in the famous silk weaving village of Duy Xuyen. The stagnant production in the village for the last several years has pushed the craftsmen against the wall.

The village, which was once noisy with thousands of power-looms and thousands of workers, made out the products famous throughout the country, has become nearly paralyzed. The owners of workshops have sold their machines. Some others still struggle to survive, but only keep production at a moderate level.

Phu Tuc and Duy Xuyen are just the two of the craft villages which are facing big difficulties, from the bamboo-made product village to paper production village, from carved product to wooden furniture villages.

In fact, the difficult situation of craft villages has been repeatedly warned since 2008 already. And once the production workshops stop operation, a lot of satellite units, which provide materials to the workshops, also have to “sit idle.” As a domino effect, when the production gets stagnant, the life of the community is getting worse. Hundreds of thousands of workers, who once could live well with their jobs, have become unemployed. Therefore, experts have every reason to say “the whole village got bankrupted.”

In terms of the production scale, craft villages with their workshops cannot be compared with big industrial enterprises. In terms of profit, they cannot be compared with other profitable business fields such as banking or real estate. However, craft villages play a very important role in the national economy, because they make a great contribution to the development of local economies and help ensure social security. More importantly, the craft villages can create tens of thousands of jobs right in rural areas.

However, craft villages’ call for help has not been responded. To date, craft villages have not received any considerable support from the State. It seems that the call is still too weak, if compared with the complaints by unprofitable enterprises and securities companies.

Real estate firms have received initial support to escape from the current difficulties, after they repeatedly called for help from the State. The State is considering buying real estate projects to help enterprises pay debts. Meanwhile, craft villages still have to wait, for indefinite time.

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