Deputy Commerce Minister Siriwat Kajornprasart said jewellery and accessories is a major traditional sector driving the country's economy. New markets such as Hong Kong and China are penetrated to replace existing markets like the European Union and the United States.
The sector's export value last year reached over Bt370 billion, about 5 per cent of the country's overall export value and ranking fourth among Thailand's major exported goods.
However, jewellery exported to ASEAN markets last year saw a value of only Bt2.6 billion, accounting as only about one per cent of overall jewellery exports, excluding gold.
Gold and silver accessories are among those mainly exported to ASEAN countries.
The reason why Thailand exports only small amounts of jewellery to ASEAN is because Thai entrepreneurs previously focused on European and North American markets due to their high purchasing power. China and India are Thailand's main competitors for the jewellery market in ASEAN.
Deputy Commerce Minister Siriwat said Thailand will benefit from Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia once the ASEAN Economic Community is launched in 2015 for their precious stones.
Regarding the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), which is currently being reviewed by the United States, there are currently no Thai entrepreneurs affected by the reality that the jewellery sector may graduate from the GSP.
Mr Siriwat said the upcoming 3rd International Gem & Jewelry Conference (GIT 2012), to be held Dec 12-13 in Bangkok and Thailand’s eastern province of Chanthaburi, with participation by experts and businessmen on the field worldwide, is designed to provide an information and knowledge exchange in the world of gems and jewellery and is expected to bring about more understanding of obstacles the jewellery sector is facing and to improve for more bargaining power in the world market.
The conference will also be held in Pailin, Cambodia's traditional source of blue sapphires, which compares favorably with Kashmiri and Burmese rubies, on the following three days, Dec 14-16.