Bangkok Strives for Status as Leading Trade Center

March 15, 1999

Bangkok Strives for Status as Leading Trade Center

Doing business in Bangkok, Thailand, has never been easier for foreign companies, thanks to the gem and jewelry industry's efforts to upgrade the local industry to world-renowned status. Industry leaders announced their intentions during the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair, being held here last week.

In the face of a continuing recession, the Thai Department of Export Promotion hopes to increase sales of gems and jewelry, presently Thailand's ninth largest industry, by 10% in 1999 over last year, said Director General Sanit Vorapanya. The government is cooperating with private businesses to tap new overseas markets, attract new sources of raw materials and boost local sales to tourists. Despite dramatic drops in exports of gems and jewelry to Hong Kong and Japan last year, Thailand still managed a 2.2% rise in exports of the category compared to 1997.

In September 1998 Thailand established the Gems and Jewelry Institute of Thailand. The GIT will include a certification laboratory when it opens this fall, and will also implement overseas marketing campaigns, local training and technological advancement. In addition, companies will adopt the "Made in Thailand" tag to promote the Thai brand in foreign markets.

In the meantime, the Thai government did away with the Value Added Tax for gold and silver imports, and the jewelry industry is working to reduce or eliminate the 20% import duty on semi-finished raw materials. "We're the best in gemstone cutting, and now we have the facility to do better business," said Vorapanya.

- by Stacey King