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Thailand is getting Noticed (JewelSiam October – November 1996 P 64)

Earlier, this year, the Bangkok Diamond & Precious Stones Exchange (BDPE) was officially welcomed as the 23rd member of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB).

            As if to celebrate the event, Thailand’s diamond industry continued to make significant gains in advancing its role as a world diamond center. The first bit of good news came when the World Diamond Congress (WDC) overwhelmingly accepted Thailand’s invitation to host the organization’s 1998 conference, according to Eli Izhakoff, president of the WFBD.

            Thailand’s second score was a special jewel trading fair organized by the BDPE, dubbed the Inter Bourse Trade Fair. Members from 16 international diamond bourses took part in the two-day event, the first of its kind, at the Montien Hotel in Bangkok.

            Goods on offer at the event included both rough and polished diamonds and gems as well as pearls. The event also provided the first opportunity for provincial Thai gem traders to deal directly with foreign buyers.

            Pichet Romhuttirerk, general secretary of the BDPE, estimated that about 150 visitors attended on each of the two days and that exhibitors numbered about 40. Of the exhibitors, he added, about half were Thai while the other half were from abroad.

            The July Inter Bourse Fair was made possible as a result of a decision at the last congress of diamond bourses to have an open-door policy between members of the WFDB> the organization is also looking into using the Internet to enable bourses to exchange information more quickly.

            The ongoing problem of VAT remains the bugbear of the industry, participants said, and the Inter Bourse Fair did not escape the problem. “Without the Vat, the 16 foreign exhibitors would be 160,” said Marvin Samuels, president of New York’s Premier Gem Corporation.

“If [the government] removes the VAT from the dealers, they will do much better,” agreed BDPE President Boonyong Assarasakorn. “We have tried for many years. This is what we have tried to show them here. You have many people from different countries and they will see what a good thing it is,” he added.

Efforts to reduce the Vat, however, are moving forward, according to Boonyong. “The government has established a committee to address issues related to the country’s export industries. Of the four [sub-committees], the tax and VAT issue, but is also looking to reduce import taxes and corporate taxes,” he said.

Despite these issues, Boonyong and other WFDB members who attended the Trade Development Committee’s (TDC) first meeting held in September agreed the Bangkok Inter Bourse Trade Fair was a success. “Thailand’s inter bourse was a great success and we foresee even greater participation at the October inter bourse trade fair in Japan. The Who’s-who of the diamond industry will be at the Tokyo fair, which will give these inter bourse trade fairs increased exposure. We will discuss the future of these sorts of trading efforts amongst the bourses at our June meeting. Although it is early to say, I think it will be agreed there is a strong future for trading fairs like these,” Izhakoff said, who participated in the TDC meeting.

The TDC’S inception at the May WDC conference in Tel-Aviv was another decision which benefited Thailand’s diamond industry. Hidetaka Koto, chairman of The TDC, and president of the Tokyo Diamond Exchange, said the aim of the new trade committee is “ to facilitate and promote the trade of the diamond and precious stone industries throughout the world, with emphasis on the relations between the three major cutting and trading centers in Antwerp, Ramat-Gan, New York and the growing Pacific Rim market,” said Kato.

The September meeting resulted in the following decisions and recommendations from the TDC:

·         All four Pacific Rim Bourses (the Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore Diamond Exchanges and the Bangkok Diamond & Precious Stones Exchange) are to coordinate and continue inter-bourse activity opened to WFDB members.

·         The four above bourses will initiate trade missions in coordination with the three major cutting centers through TDC chairman Kato.

·         The TDC strongly endorses the cohesiveness of the present marketing channels from producer to retailers. Furthermore, it recognizes that the cooperation among all diamond producers will serve and strengthen the industry and maintain its stability.

 

The six WFDB members who came to the TDC meeting recognize Thailand’s potential to increase its role as a world diamond center in the midst of booming regional economic growth.

Members of the TDC were quick to recognize Thailand’s swift entrance into the global diamond industry based on the country’s long history with colored stones and Boonyong’s active role in promoting the Kingdom’s place as a vital world diamond center.

“Mr. Boonyong has been very aggressive in pursuing initiatives on an international level by leading missions to major diamond centers throughout the world. This is contributing a lot to trade between Thailand and other world centers.

“This is my tenth visit to Thailand I the past few years. We see Thailand becoming a very important cutting center. Thailand is well known as a center for cutting and polishing diamonds very well. Also, in the last few years, Thailand began manufacturing jewelry in a way that is second-to-none,” Izhakoff said.

The establishment of a regional trading committee for the Pacific Rim is another clear indication of Asia’s increasingly important role in the world’s diamond manufacturing sectors and consuming markets.

Itzhak Forem, president of the Israel Diamond Exchange, who also attended the first TDC meeting, said there is a strong future for this region’s market

“Everybody feels the future of the Far East market, this is excluding China, which is a big market. Many people in other areas of the world already have diamonds. As economies in the Far East grow, the people will have more money to spend on diamonds and other luxury goods. I believe in this market and look forward to its potential for the diamond industry,” said Forem.


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