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   As we go to press. The Nation newspaper has run the following news item, with the byline of Petchanet Pratruangkrai;

   "Jewellery, gem industry seeks aid"

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

   The proposal is to be made at a meeting on December 4 between Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and chief executive officers of key industries, mainly in food, gems and jewellery and services. The The meeting is aimed at voicing private enterprises" opinions and complaints.

   Mr Somchai Phornchindarak, president of the Gems, Jewelry and Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand (GJPCT) and former president of the Thai Gem and Jewellery Traders Association, said his industry was facing four key problems: this industry, which provides one of the Kingdom's top 10 export products, Mr Somchai said the government should waive import tariffs for raw materials for enterprises that aim to re-export. The association will also encourage the government to waive value-added tax (VAT) for gems and jewellery sales within the country, as most buyers are forigners, while Thais normally buy only gold.

   The association also wants the govenment 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 workers, particularly skilled laboureers, to fewer than a million from more than 1.2 million. Mr.Somchai said.

   Moreover, the GJPCT will call for the government to increase liquidity for small and medium-sized enterprises in the gems and jewellery sector, as they have faced problemed accessing sofi 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 release soft loans to help SMEs in the industry.

  If the government 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 a year.

  With signs of a recovery in global trading, Thai exports of gems and jewellery are expected to grow by 5 per cent next year from this year's approximate value of $10 billion.

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

  The association will also encourage the promotion of trading streets specialisting in gems, jewellery and ornaments as symbolic tourist destinations. For instance, Charoenkrung Road and KZhaosan Road could be promoted as silver-ornaments trading streets, Yaowarat Road as a gold street, and Silom and Mahesak as precious-stones streets.

Cover picture :
The "Collier Hindou" Tutti Frutti Necklace, created by Cartier in 1936 for Ms Daisy Fellowes. In 1963, Ms fellows' daughter autthorized some alterations to the piece. In 1991, the necklace, together with a pair of carved emerald and diamond ear pendants, was auctioned by Sotheby's in Geneva, with an estimated of $650,000 to $950,000. The lot sold for $2,655,172, then a record price for an Art Deco jewel, the buyer being Cartier, who purchased the important piece for the Cartier private collection - Photo by courtesy of Cartier.


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