Competition: Thailand’s Golden Opportunity

Standing in the teeming, glitzy trading towers in Bangkok's jewelry district, you would be hard-pressed to imagine the industry's modest beginnings or its current woes. Over the past two decades, the industry rose from last to fourth place in importance among Thailand's industry groups. In 1992 alone, for example, jewelry exports grew 28% over the previous year. But in late 1994, the momentum slowed and jewelry and gems slipped to eighth place as competition from neighboring countries heated up. Thai businesspeople view the challenge in a positive light. "Competition makes us worry enough to do our best in making our products and in developing new markets," says Vichian Veerasaksri of Aquarius Gems. A sense of how the industry will meet the challenge emerges from a look at its latest buzz words: "manufacturing efficiency," "highly skilled workers," "labor-intensive work," "industry

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