Thailand's gem and jewellery exports excluding gold are expected to grow by 15%-20% this year, driven by the global economic recovery and increasing economic activities as well as less severe symptoms caused by the Omicron variant.
Sumeth Prasongphongchai, director of the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (GIT), said many Thai trading partners adjusted their safety policies to allow more open trading conditions.
"In addition to more vaccination coverage worldwide, the Omicron variant appears to generate less severe symptoms. This results in increased economic activities and rising demand for gems and jewellery products," said Mr Sumeth.
This year the GIT forecast growth of Thailand's gems and jewellery exports excluding gold of 15-20% from US$6.16 billion last year, which rose by 26.9% from the year before.
Including volatile gold, exports decreased by 44.8% last year to $10 billion.
Markets that saw strong export growth included the UK (up by 135% from last year), Switzerland (up 70.4%), India (up 60.7%), the US (up 51.3%), the United Arab Emirates (up 29.8%), Belgium (up 21.2%), Australia (up 10.7%) and Japan (up 6.49%).
Important export products that recorded growth were platinum jewellery (up 51.9%), polished hard gems (up 38.5%), polished and cut diamonds (up 35.1%), gold jewellery (up 31.8%), silver (up 24.1%), silver jewellery (up 21.7%), sapphires (up 17.4%) and polished artificial jewellery (up 9.7%).
Gem and jewellery exports ranked fifth in terms of total shipment value last year, trailing automobiles and parts, computers and parts, rubber products, and plastic pellets. The industry employs more than 700,000 workers.
In a related development, Mr Sumeth said the International Chanthaburi Gems and Jewelry Festival 2021-2022, held on Feb 4 with over 250 exhibitors, may have generated revenue of more than 60 million baht for local traders.
The GIT in partnership with the International Trade Promotion Department and gem and jewellery producers is scheduled to organise the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair in September at Impact Muang Thong Thani after three years of suspension.