BANGKOK, February 27, 2016 – Thailand’s gems and jewellery sector was expected to grow by up to 5 percent in 2016, similar to last year, despite a fragile outlook for the global economy, industry leaders said during the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair.
Thailand is a major hub for processing and export of manufactured colour gemstone jewellery and is well known for its expertise in processing rubies, sapphires and other gemstones. The country is a major manufacturer of silver jewellery.
Footfall was brisk at the show (February 24-28, 2016), with a strong turnout of retailers and manufacturers from across Asia and beyond.
The fair, which had almost 2,600 booths spanning silver jewellery to precious colour gemstones, similar to last year, takes place twice a year and is the second biggest in Asia after Hong Kong.
The Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair has recently been designated as a duty free zone. Exhibitors are exempted from a 20 percent import duty on gemstones and jewellery products.
“You pay no Value Added Tax when you hand-carry rough gemstones through Bangkok international airport to attend the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair,” the fair added.
The taxation policy aims to enable Thailand to compete with other countries, while moving toward becoming a world centre for production and trade of gems and jewellery.
The gems and jewellery industry is one of the most important industries in the Thai economy, employing about one million people.
At a press conference at the fair, Suttipong Damrongsakul, Secretary General of the Gems, Jewelry and Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand (GJPCT), said he expected the U.S. market for Thai-manufactured jewellery to grow this year as the U.S. economy recovers.
He told Jewellery Outlook that he saw potential for the U.S. market, which at one time represented 25 percent of Thai gem and jewellery exports and currently accounts for around 12 percent, to pick up again sharply in the coming years.
Anthony Peter Brooke, a director of the GJPCT, said he expected the Chinese market for Thai exports to bounce back within three years.
He said the UK market was performing well.
Faced with a challenging global economic environment, Thai industry leaders are urging the financial sector to make financing more readily available to small and medium sized businesses in the gems and jewellery sector.“World’s first ruby symposium”
The Fair announced plans to stage the “world’s first ruby symposium” in Bangkok in April 2017, which will gather leading manufacturers and exporters to focus on the latest developments and the outlook for processing and trading of rubies.
“The project aims to promote Thailand as the hub for rubies,” Suttipong said.
Thai industry leaders announced plans to separate the timing of the Bangkok and Hong Kong show so that the Bangkok fair, which is held twice a year, becomes a destination event.
Many retailers combine visits to the Bangkok and Hong Kong shows, often spending 10-15 days away from their home countries which in some cases was too long, industry executives said.
Thai industry leaders said that from next year they were considering moving the first Bangkok show of the year to a mid-January slot, and could shift the second Bangkok show to August.
Suttipong, who is also Managing Director of the Gemopolis Industrial Estate, said he expected the manufacturing area of jeweller Pandora in Thailand to expand in coming months in response to strong demand for the brand’s jewellery around the world.
He added that Thai industry was working on plans to promote branded “Made in Thailand” jewellery, making the most of Thai manufacturing skills and know-how.
He said Thailand would face stiffer competition in gem and jewellery manufacturing in future years from countries such as Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia.