Government signs mineral deal with Mozambique

Thailand has signed a memorandum of understanding on mineral resource cooperation with Mozambique in a bid to ease manufacturers' shortage of raw materials.

Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said the agreement, signed yesterday, covers mineral resource exploration, investment promotion and academic exchanges with the aim of expanding trade and investment for the gems and jewellery industry.

He said Thailand lacks supplies of raw materials for the sector, while Mozambique remains short of knowledge about mineral and gem certification, cutting technology and value addition.

Thailand imports about 30 billion baht worth of raw materials for the sector each year. With gold included, the import value reached 406 billion baht last year.

Mozambique is now Thailand's largest provider of raw materials for gems and jewellery, followed by Madagascar, Sri Lanka and India.

Mozambique is the 12th-largest trading partner of Thailand in Africa, with two-way trade amounting to US$180 million last year, up by 5.17% from 2011.

Thai exports to Mozambique were worth $163 million comprising mainly rice, plastic pellets, auto parts, steel and sugar.

Somchai Phornchindarak, president of the Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association (TGJTA), said the government-to-government agreement is essential, as it shows the two governments will support Thai investment and trade in Mozambique.

"The Thai private sector is keen and ready to form joint ventures with local partners in gem mines, semi-precious and precious stone mines and trading companies," he said.

"Thailand is the largest semi-precious and precious stone importer from Mozambique, a shift from Sri Lanka and Madagascar in the past."

Thai gem and jewellery shipments had an estimated value of 410 billion baht last year, with the TGJTA forecasting exports to grow by 5% this year.

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Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
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