A virtual trade event, organised by Thailand’s Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), Commerce Ministry, is set to take place from November 2-4, 2020, facilitating digital trade in gemstones and jewelry in response to the challenges to international travel and trade caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Somdet Susomboon, Director General of the DITP, tells Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough.
What are your plans for the November virtual event, “BGJF (Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair) Special Edition – On Ground to Online Exhibition”?
As you know, coronavirus has continued to spread throughout the world, disrupting travel and creating many health issues. Even though Thailand has been very successful in limiting the spread of the virus within the country, the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce, has decided to officially postpone the 66th Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair until 23-27 February 2021 to prevent possible health and travel difficulties for event participants.
However, the DITP is determined to ensure the continuity of our gems and jewelry trade fairs, as well as providing trading opportunities for those involved. So this year the DITP has created the online trade channel with a special “BGJF Special Edition – On Ground to Online Exhibition” activity. This will give opportunities to conduct gems and jewelry business through our virtual platform.
This virtual event will be held from 2-4 November 2020. Exhibitors will be able to introduce new products and exchange information through this virtual trade show platform. It also provides engaging and interactive virtual event experiences for all attendees.
What is the main purpose of the virtual event?
The Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair is one of the world’s leading trade shows for international buyers and sellers, as well as a very important opportunity for Thailand to showcase the high quality of its gems and jewelry industry.
The global pandemic has challenged us to transform our regular event into an online platform in order to provide an opportunity for buyers and sellers who would normally visit the BGJF to conduct their trade online as if they were joining a physical trade fair. We expect about 600 Thai and international companies to participate in the event.
We are currently working closely with our partners to offer interesting and exciting programmes to be featured during the online exhibition, including seminars, business matching activities, exchange of ideas, video calling, as well as highlighting some of Thailand’s latest creations.
Are you optimistic that the February 2021 edition of the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair will go ahead as scheduled? What measures will be implemented to ensure the safety of visitors and exhibitors?
The 66th edition of the BGJF has been rescheduled to be held at Challenger Hall 1 – 3 IMPACT, Bangkok, from 23 to 27 February 2021. It is difficult to foresee what will happen regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the DITP will provide the event with a hybrid platform for all attendees both offline and online, as well as ensuring that the highest levels of safety, security and public health precautions are in place for the benefit of attendees.
At the 65th edition of the BGJF held in February 2020, the DITP welcomed almost 10,000 visitors from 106 countries with 994 exhibitors – a 10% increase compared to the previous year – with 2,086 booths.
Even though the COVID-19 outbreak had just begun in Thailand at that time, we worked closely with the Public Health Ministry’s Disease Control Department to implement the strongest precautionary preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19. As always, our priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants.
For next year’s event, we will implement a stringent series of hygiene and sanitation measures to ensure the safety of those who will be participating in the event, following guidelines provided by Public Health Ministry experts. These measures will include the continuous use of health screening, hygienic cleaning of all surfaces throughout the event, and the establishment of a well-staffed medical centre close to the exhibition halls.
How important are gems and jewellery exports to the Thai economy? How is this sector coping during COVID-19?
Thailand’s gems and jewelry are renowned worldwide for their quality, creativity and craftsmanship as well as total business solutions. We have a long established global reputation for creating the finest jewelry through the brilliance of our skilled craftsmen.
Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of silver jewelry and the third largest exporter of colored stones after the US and Hong Kong.
In 2019, the industry generated approximately 15.6 billion USD in export sales, an increase of 30.91% compared with the previous year. Exports of gems and jewelry, excluding unwrought gold, were worth 8 billion USD, an increase of 6.34 % compared to 2018.
In Thailand, the industry is an important provider of incomes for numerous SMEs and over 1.2 million skilled people from upstream to downstream.
Despite restrictions imposed to counter the threat of coronavirus, the gems and jewelry industry in Thailand is beginning to show signs of recovery. When the nationwide lockdown was eased, the renowned Chanthaburi gems market re-opened for business and now its trading levels have almost returned to normal.
The 2020 export target for gems and jewelry products (excluding unwrought gold), set by the DITP, is 8.18 billion USD, a 1% increase over 2019.
With the global economy struggling, the DITP has introduced various strategies to continuously promote exports of Thai gems and jewelry.
We will maximise the capabilities and connections of DITP’s 58 Thai Trade Centres worldwide to initiate more business connections among public and private sectors, as well as various gems and jewelry associations.
The DITP has identified key potential markets such as Hong Kong, India, China, Japan, ASEAN, the US, the EU, and the Middle East where we will push to expand our exports to these destinations.
We believe online activities are important to counter the restrictions on travel and lockdown. To achieve this, the DITP is helping businesses to adopt online marketing and providing online business matching services for Thai entrepreneurs to meet potential international clients via teleconferencing. Moreover, the DITP is now partnering with the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand to promote certified products through DITP’s B2B E-commerce platform “thaitrade.com”.
What steps is DITP taking to safeguard and develop the Thai gems and jewelry sector during these difficult times?
The Thai Government has been working tirelessly with both public and private sectors to initiate various incentives, marketing programmes and training schemes to efficiently transform Thailand into the world’s premier gems and jewelry trading hub.
Government agencies have introduced a series of measures to facilitate international trade, including taxation and financial incentives, product standardisation, as well as domestic and international marketing strategies. Regulations and procedures that obstruct trade have been either reduced or streamlined to eliminate trade barriers.
The DITP continues to play an important role in promoting Thailand’s gem and jewelry industry globally. Thus, both the “BGJF Special Edition – On Ground to Online Exhibition” and the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair (BGJF) are major international trading platforms where all key players in the global gems and jewelry business congregate to source materials, trade, and network with existing and potential partners.
The DITP has initiated a global campaign, entitled “THAILAND’S MAGIC HANDS: The Spirit of Jewelry Making”. This is aimed at gaining international recognition for Thailand’s gems and jewelry industry, connecting the spirit of jewelry making to the traditional way of life and advanced skills of making intricate creations.
In addition to being an important manufacturer and exporter of high quality gems and jewelry, Thailand is also an attractive destination for sizable international jewellery companies to establish their entities right here in Thailand. Thailand offers a strong infrastructure, a capable workforce making it an attractive investment destination.
In 2020, Thailand ranks 21st among 190 countries according to the World Bank’s Doing Business annual ratings. Major corporations such as Pandora, Rosy Blue Diamond and Abbeycrest have already set up operations in Thailand.
Moreover, Thailand is well on its way towards its goal of becoming the world’s gems and jewelry trading hub in the near future.
Is the DITP increasingly using digital technologies to promote the Thai gems and jewellery sector internationally?
Due to the current COVID-19 situation, the DITP is taking into account various social distancing and lockdown measures that is limiting travel. To overcome this problem, the DITP has initiated a number of online activities such as webinars, podcasts and Instagram Live aligned with the “New Normal” era.
The DITP has hosted webinar programmes with media from India, the UAE and Hong Kong, as well as a podcast programme with the US media in June and July. The keynote speakers included directors of the DITP’s Thai Trade Centres, who have real expertise in specific markets. They discussed the excellence of Thailand’s jewelry industry and in particular its exceptional craftsmanship, and our journey to become the world’s jewelry hub.
Apart from joining online media events, people can visit such online channels as bkkgems.com, Facebook and Instagram for more information about our trade fairs, as well as industry news to keep up with all the industry insights. The DITP also plans to introduce further digital opportunities and social media marketing that will help to overcome difficulties and obstacles created by coronavirus.
The BGJF Special Edition – On Ground to Online Exhibition is the latest digitalised initiative launched by the DITP to promote Thailand’s gems and jewelry industry internationally. Please mark it down on your calendar and visit us on www.bkkgems-vts.com during 2-4 November 2020. The online opening ceremony will take place on Monday, 2 November 2020. We hope to see all of you there – virtually. Thank you.