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Jewellery businesses look elsewhere in Asean for raw materials, cheap labour

Aug 31. 2012
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By Petchanet Pratruangkrai

The

Thai jewellery and ornament enterprises are setting up plants in other Asean countries to ensure supplies of raw material and lower labour costs.

Deputy Commerce Minister Siriwat Kachornprasart said Thailand’s efforts to improve workers’ incomes along with a shortage of raw materials amid regional integration were major reasons for these enterprises establishing themselves in other Asean countries. Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia all have good supplies of raw materials and low wages.

While cashing in on these factors, the companies will also enjoy zero tariffs under the Asean Free Trade Area.

Thailand lacks many of the raw materials needed for jewellery products such as sapphires, which exist in Myanmar and other Asean countries.

Siriwat said Asean would not only provide new production bases for the Thai jewellery industry, but also new target markets for the products.

The European economic crunch has seriously affected export of Thai gems and jewellery this year. In the first seven months, exports in this category dropped by 15.8 per cent year on year to US$6.78 billion (Bt212 billion).

The European Union and the United States are major export destinations for Thai gems, accounting for more than 40 per cent of total export value. Thus the government and traders have tried to diversify targeted markets to Asean, the Middle East, China, Russia, and emerging countries in Africa and Latin America to compensate.

To promote growth of the industry, the Commerce Ministry will on Monday (September 3) meet with jewellery traders to come up with measures to drive export growth and eliminate trade barriers. It will also finalise a plan to increase sources of funds to support Thai producers expanding their businesses and promoting their products overseas.

With many measures put in place to drive exports in the remainder of the year, the ministry projects that jewellery and ornament shipments will grow by 5-6 per cent this year.

The ministry’s Gems and Jewellery Institute of Thailand will hold the third International Gem and Jewellery Conference on December 12-13 in Bangkok to promote Thai enterprises and provide business matching for traders.

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