Tunisia: Kairouan Copper Market Faces Collapse, As Prices Soar and Customers Shy Away

Tunis/Tunisia — The copper market in Kairouan governorate is facing collapse, as prices of raw materials keep on rising and customers are shying away.

The age-old profession rings like music at the old city, with artisans’ hammers sounding and calling for buyers, but no one among the hundreds of bystanders responds.

Artisan Kamal Sadafi, who spoke to TAP as he knocked a copper plate, says he cannot desert his father’s profession, despite the difficulties faced and the shortage and high prices of raw materials, such as copper, tin and coal.

“Marketing has become decidedly harder; before, no house was devoid of copper household utensils and decorations. Now, the acquisition of this traditional product is becoming low priority to younger couples and families.”

For his part, craftsman Youssef Makawi told TAP the situation of the copper market itself has become disastrous, because of the next door vegetable market overlooking their shops. “This entailed the spread of waste, with the absence of regular cleaning operations. It is awful.”

“The forged copper industry has become threatened, same as other crafts, as a result of the high prices of raw materials and the absence of incentives for industrialists to continue their activities.”

The Kairouan copper market has 40 shops, including 35 shops located in the market itself and 5 right outside it. It provides subistence to no less than 200 workers, according to secretary of the copper market in Kairouan, judicial expert Mohamed Hedi Chebbi, locally known as “Chahloul.”

“The forged copper industry saw a stall in marketing, in addition to the spread of the use of new materials and metals, such as stainless steel and plastic, he regretted, noting the high prices of raw materials of copper and coal.”

Moreover, younger workers are utterly disinterested by the trade. Artisans demanded on many occasions the creation of a school in this field to encourage children to learn and master it, but there has been no response to date, Chahloul pointed out.


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