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New markets explored:

NGJA targets Rs 35 b on gem and jewellery exports

The National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) is targeting Rs.35 billion this year through Gem and Jewellery exports.

With the dawn of peace, the gem and jewellery industry will a have positive impact. The industry in the Northern province, especially, would expand with the infusion of technology and human resources. Therefore, these areas would become a manufacturing hub to cater to the tourism industry said Deputy Director General (Acting), NGJA, Ajith Perera.

There was a 34 percent decline in gem, jewellery and diamond exports in the first five months of this year compared to the corresponding period last year. The gem and jewellery industry is the first to collapse in an economic recession, he said.

Perera said that following the decline in the market in the United States, Thailand, Italy, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Japan, France, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, India, Singapore and the Maldives the NGJA identified Brazil, Russia, India and China as the least affected countries of recession that would broaden the market for gem and jewellery.

Hence, the authority had ventured into the Chinese market while it will participate in a leading international event in Russia and India in 2010 and negotiate to send a fact-finding mission to Brazil this year.

The Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association has called upon jewellers, exporters and miners to manage cost, conserve resources and maintain a low profile until the economy improves as a strategy to face the economic recession.

Simultaneously, we also looked into the need of people actively participating in promotional activities of the trade by subsidizing a certain percentage of their cost for travelling and participating in recognized international trade exhibitions, the Secretary of the Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association, Ziqufi Ismail said.

Therefore, members of the trade were asked to be creative to reach a niche market. The economic recession has resulted in a decline of 40-45 percent in exports to countries such as the United States, Germany and Japan, the main market for Sri Lanka’s gem and jewellery exports, he said.

He said that the Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association is looking for major markets apart from the traditional markets. It is venturing in to markets which have a potential for gems and jewellery in countries such as China, Russia and India in the near future.

“We have allocated a fair percentage of our promotional budget and already sent two delegations to China and Russia. The Gem and Jewellery Association is hoping to do e-marketing in gem and jewellery through these channels,” he said.

This will be a boost for the trade in the months to come, since the North East market is opening slowly. The East especially will record a growth in tourism which is directly connected to the gem and jewellery industry. With the tourism industry growth in volume, it will give rise to new investments in the gem and jewellery industry. There will be a demand for gold in the newly liberated areas as people in those areas are now free to invest money.

The FACETS Sri Lanka 2009 and LUSTRE 2009 will facilitate members of the Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association to attract new investors. Steps will be taken to reduce the 12 percent tax on the jewellery trade, Ismail said.

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