COMMENTARY – IIJS trade show drives India’s ambition to bolster gem and jewel exports
By David Brough
MUMBAI, August 10, 2019 – The IIJS Premiere trade show, running from August 8-12, is a key driver of India’s ambition to boost gem and jewellery exports against strong headwinds in the global economy.
India is a leading supplier of gems and manufactured and handcrafted jewellery, and processes most of the world’s diamonds.
Exports of gems and jewellery from India exceed $40 billion a year, with an official target to achieve a lofty $75 billion by 2025.
The gem and jewellery sector is hugely important for India’s economy, accounting for 7 percent of GDP.
The export turnover target is looking increasingly ambitious, due to a challenging global economic climate, with the U.S.-China trade conflict raising fears of a global economic slowdown.
“In the diamond market sentiment is weak. A strong focus on marketing in countries that have a large number of people of Indian origin will be key,” said Sabyasachi Ray, Executive Director of the GJEPC, organiser of IIJS (India International Jewellery Show.)
“It is very important that we create demand in new markets,” he added.
MARKETING KEY, ESPECIALLY IN TOUGH TIMES
Senior industry officials attending IIJS, a major conduit for India’s gem and jewellery exports, agreed that a renewed marketing impetus was needed to spur gem and jewellery exports, especially during tough economic times and a period of soft polished diamond prices.
Despite the challenging economic climate, footfall was brisk from the start at IIJS Premiere in Mumbai, auguring for a healthy flow of orders at India’s number 1 gems and jewellery trade show.
India needs to respond to disappointing retail sales in the United States over the Christmas season, which cut retailers’ requirement to restock diamonds this year.
Officials of the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) are also concerned over possible downward pressure on Chinese demand for Indian gem and jewellery exports due to the trade tensions between China and the United States.
U.S. barriers to Chinese imports could, however, create opportunities for increased Indian gem and jewellery market share in the United States, GJEPC officials said.
In diamonds, Paul Rowley, Executive Vice-President of De Beers, spoke of a commitment by the group to spend $145 million on marketing, including support for generic marketing by the miner-backed Diamond Producers Association (DPA), which is centred mainly on the United States, China and India.
At IIJS, a seminar addressed how Indian companies can pursue export opportunities, notably in markets with big Indian diasporas, such as the UK and Canada.
Sabyasachi Ray outlined at the seminar how the GJEPC would support Indian companies planning to set up in overseas markets.
Indian officials have expressed concerns over a sharp recent drop in Indian gem and jewellery exports to the UK, which could be linked to a weak pound and uncertainties over Brexit.
British Asian jewellers are now pondering the creation of a possible British Asian Jewellers Association (BAJA) that would help to stimulate trade between the two countries.
A seminar about the British Asian jewellery market, which accounts for some 2 percent of total UK gems and jewellery turnover, will take place during International Jewellery London (IJL), and will be attended by a senior diplomat from the Indian High Commission in London.