Glittery outlook for gems and jewellery
Thailand's gems and jewellery exports are expected to do brisk business this year, driven by the economic recovery in trading partners and relaxation of strict lockdown measures.
According to Phusit Ratanakul Sereroengrit, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, the department predicted gems and jewellery exports excluding gold will increase by 20% this year.
"After consulting with business operators every two months, the department is confident outbound shipments of gems and jewellery should post healthy growth this year, with export value expected to top US$7.39 billion," he said.
"Many trading partners of Thailand have eased their lockdown measures, while economic activities and consumer spending in those countries have increased."
However, Mr Phusit said volatile prices of key raw materials such as unwrought gold and raw gemstones are a key area of concern, as Thailand depends on imports of such items.
In addition, he said most local small and medium-sized enterprises have yet to adjust their production to keep abreast of modern technology, while many skilled workers in the industry who were affected by the Covid-19 outbreaks have yet to return.
Last year, Thailand's gems and jewellery exports excluding gold rose by 26.9% to $6.16 billion in 2020.
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% year-on-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 auto parts, computers and parts, rubber products, and plastic pellets. The industry employs more than 700,000 workers.
For the first three months of this year, gem and jewellery exports rose 40% year-on-year to $1.89 billion. Including gold, the shipments surged 204% to $5.48 billion.
Markets with healthy export growth include the US, India, Germany, the UK, Switzerland, the UAE, Belgium, Italy and Japan.
Mr Phusit said the department is scheduled to organise two fairs this year: BGJF Virtual Trade Fair 2022 on June 13–17 and Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair on Sept 7-11 at Impact Muang Thong Thani.