Thailand’s Campaign to Lift Jewelry Industry

The Thai Commerce Ministry says it has kicked off “two major campaigns” designed to lift gems and jewelry exports and sustain Thailand’s status as a leading jewelry center.

The first campaign encourages all parties in the jewelry supply and production chain to follow regulations in their conduct of businesses to ensure smooth flows of import and export through the Kingdom.

The second is an attempt to promote Bangkok’s Silom, Mahaesak, and Surawong areas as the country’s central gem and jewelry district on world maps, said Thai Commerce Minister Pornthiva Nakasai.

Under the “Trading Right” campaign, the ministry has joined the country’s finance ministry, police, board of trade, and gem trade associations to encourage importers of rough gemstones to declare their imports.

Nakasai said there are some misunderstandings about the customs procedures governing imports of rough gemstones, particularly among foreign traders, for failing them to make declarations.

“The fact is there are no duties or VAT for imported rough gemstones if the traders followed the customs procedure in declaring the goods,” Nakasai said. “By abiding to the declaration rules, traders contribute to a smooth and streamlined trading system which can be counter-checked for transparency in the trading chain.”

Nakasai added that the two campaigns “form part of the ministry’s action plans to ensure that the Thai jewelry industry can weather the storm of global economic downturn to continue to register growth this year.”

The ministry said it is working with the local jewelry industry to penetrate new markets including China, India, Russia, and the Middle East, while maintaining Thailand’s position in important traditional marketplaces like the U.S. and Europe.

“As these measures are put to work, I believe that the Thai jewel exports can defy the economic crisis to record growth in 2009,” Nakasai said.

Thailand’s overall 2008 jewel exports recorded a 48.04 percent growth over the previous year to 274.10 billion baht ($7.6 billion) despite a slowdown in the last quarter of last year, ranking it third among exports.

The ministry said is orchestrating cooperation among some 2,000 jewel retailers, wholesalers, and exporters located in the Silom, Mahaesak, and Surawong neighborhoods to turn the area into a premier gems trade hub.

“The ministry’s trade offices around the world will include this ‘gem and jewelry district’ in Thailand’s trade promotion agenda,” she said.