India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), along with other trade bodies and exporters, at a US Trade Representative (USTR) hearing held virtually on May 10, 2021, represented the industry’s concerns over a proposed 25% import duty on 17 Indian jewellery items.
Participants in the call included prominent industry bodies like SEEPZ Gems & Jewelry Manufacturers Association (SGJMA) of Mumbai, and Sitapura Gem & Jewellery Association from Jaipur.
The GJEPC led the charge in presenting direct testimony to and answering questions from the Section 301 Committee, comprising officials from the USTR, US Departments of Commerce, Labour, Agriculture, Treasury, State Department, etc.
They heard comments from a total of four panels, the first consisting of representatives from trade bodies like FICCI and CII; the second comprising international trade law experts from India; the third featuring gem and jewellery industry representatives; and the fourth panel representing the seafood industry.
The GJEPC as a leading body of the gem and jewellery industry in India, has been proactively engaging with all the stakeholders and conveying the implications of the proposed duty.
A detailed representation was made to the Government of India on 29th March, 2021. GJEPC got in touch with its trade members through webinars and meetings; and, based on feedback, the GJEPC prepared a comprehensive guide, and provided it to all members.
The GJEPC also supported members in submitting petitions. In all, around 140 trade members submitted petitions by April 30.
The GJEPC, in coordination with associations and trade members, submitted seven hearing requests by April 21, followed by the submission of the preliminary document on May 3.
In response to the submission, the USTR permitted a panel of members from the gem and jewellery sector to present their comments.
The third panel included GJEPC Chairman Colin Shah; Rajiv Jain of Sitapura Gems & Jewelry Industry Association; Suvankar Sen of Senco Gold Limited and Convener of GJEPC’s SEZ Sub-committee; Arvind Gupta of Gallant Jewelry; Rajeev Pandya of SGJMA; and Neville Tata of Renaissance Global Ltd.
Colin Shah, Chairman, GJEPC, said: “The perception of injustice would lead to real-life consequences, such as a loss of jobs and livelihoods and a shift of business to countries such as China and Mexico.
“American jewellery companies also depend on Indian companies to fund their businesses by giving long-term credit and memo facilities, which would have major repercussions.
“Indian companies have established an estimated 500 offices around the USA that provide thousands of high-paying white collar jobs to locals; the imposition of such a duty could affect all these jobs as the Indo-US jewellery business would become unviable.”
Shah added, “The timing could not have been worse for imposing this tariff on Indian jewellery exporters, who are already reeling under the impact of the pandemic.”