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   Thailand's gems and jewellery industry has asked for the Thai government's support on four main issues in a bid to double the share of Thai exports of these products in world market to 4 per cent within five years.

   The proposal was made at s meeting last month between PrimeMinister Prayut Chan-o-Cha and chief executive officers of key industries, mainly in food, gems and jewellery, and services. The meeting was aimed at voicing private enterpriseses' opinions and complaints.

   Mr Somchai Phornchindarak, president of the Gems, Jewelry and Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand (GJPCT) and former president of the Thai Gems and Jewelry Traders Association, said his industry was facting four key problems : shortage of skilled labour, lack of support for research and development, low financial liquidity, and the high cost of importing raw materials. During the meeting, the industry addressed those four problems and asked for the government's support in dealing with them.

   To help promote this industry, which ranks among the Kingdom's top 10 export products. Mr Somchai said the government should waive import tariffs on raw materials for enterprises that aim to re-export. The association also encouraged the government to waive value-added tax (VAT) for gems and jewellery sales within Thailand, as most buyers are foreigners, while Thais normally buy only gold.

   The association also asked the government to allocate some funding for R & D in the industry, as well as increasing skilled labour. During the past five years, the industry has seen a reduction in the number of workers, particularly skilled craftspeople, to fewer than a million from more than 1.2 milllion, Mr Somchai said.

   Moreover, the GJPCT called for the government to increase liquidity for small and medium-sized enterprises in the gems and jewellery sector, as they have faced problems accessing soft loans. The government could re-establish the Gem Bank project, which should be administrated by a private organisation, so that it will better operated and can relaese soft loans to help SMEs in the industry.

   If the government can support can support these plans, Mr Somchai believes the Thai share of gems and jewellery products in the world market could double from the current 2 per cent to 4 per cent within five years.

   Currently, the global value of gems and jewellery trading is about US$500 billion (Baht 17.9 trillion) a year. With signs of a recovery in global trading. Thai exports of gems and jwellery are experts to grow by 5 per cent this year from last year's approximate value of $10 billion.

   In addition, to promote more domestic sales of gems and jewellery to foreign tourists, the GJPCT is urging the Tourism Ministry to put Bangkok gems and jewellery fairs on the travelling calendar, to be held every six months.

   The association is also encouraging the promoting of trading streets specialisting in gems and jewellery as symbolic tourist destinations. For instance, Charoenkrung Road and jewellery as symbolic tourist destinations. For instance, Charoenkrung Road and Khaosan Road could be promoted as silver-jewellery trading streets, Yaowarat Road as a gold street, and Silom and Mahesak as gemstones streets.

Cover picture :
The magnificent set, titled "DNA of the Kaleidoscape," was awarded First Prize in GIT World's JewelryDesign Awards 2015, held recently in Bangkok The jewellery set was designed by Miss Chan Hsiao-Ching. of Taiwan, and sponsored by Chyhijun Jewelry Company. As the prize-winning designer, Miss Chan Hsiao-Ching received the HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Trophy, plus a $3,000 cash prize sponsored by the Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association. Picture by courtesy of the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (Public Organization) (GIT)


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