Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said yesterday that Sri Lanka's gem exports have surged by 135% and that the promising international mid range gem market can help the country's gem sector to next levels.
As Sri Lanka aims at a one billion dollar gem export target, its gem export values have already been surging by a whopping 135%-and the promising international mid-range gem market can help push the country's gem sector to its next levels, he told the FACETS 2015 inauguration.
"Sri Lanka's total gem exports that stood at US$ 70 Million in 2010 have increased by 135% by last year. I believe that it is time our industry expands its focus from 'top range' to 'mid-range' consumers. The global 'mid-range consumers' are a much bigger market' the minister said.
The EDB is the sponsor of this event and also a co-organizer of 'Sri Lanka Jewellery Design Competition 2015' held in parallel. FACETS series was initiated by the EDB in 1991 in association with National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) and Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association.
"As we all know gems are not only a well-known export of Sri Lanka, but also a key identity factor of Sri Lanka in its global trade history. In fact, Sri Lanka is considered to have a true 'mine-to-market' gem industry in the world" said Minister Bathiudeen, and added: "The exhibition is also taking place at a time when it is projected that the global gem and jewellery demand would increase at an annual rate of 6% till 2020. The attraction of gems of Sri Lankan origin across the world has seen continued rise during the recent years. I am pleased to note that Sri Lanka's total gem exports that stood at US$ 70 million in 2010 has increased by a huge 135% by last year to US$ 165 million. Jewellery exports in the same period has increased by 31%. To gain the maximum revenue potential of our gems, I believe that it is time our industry expands its focus from 'top-end global consumers' to more and more 'mid-range' consumers as well. The 'mid-range consumers' are a much bigger market. They also increasingly look for alternative 'luxury purchase options'.
Their market promise should not be ignored. Our gems are of high quality and are also affordable across the world due to the low manufacturing costs. Certain Sri Lankan gem categories that are more affordable could be positioned towards this mid-range consumer initiative.
Our gem-industry's low manufacturing costs are also a welcome sign for global gem manufacturers who want to partner here. It is time that we encourage more such investors to come to Sri Lanka so that our industry will stand to benefit from new high tech-machineries and techniques.
However, such partnerships should not change the historic and small-scale nature of our gem mining and processing. The new technologies should rather be focused on production cost efficiencies, as well as to discover new deposits with minimal impact on the environment so that gem demand is sustained and new employment is generated.
Our gems have become a great challenge to other South Asian and Far Eastern gem exporters due to the rare and high quality of them. This good news comes especially at a time that Asian gem markets are projected to surge in the short-term at least till 2017."
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board Bandula Egodage said: "I am pleased to say that we identified this sector as a thrust sector and are looking at a one billion dollar gem export volumes in the future with the support of the gem and jewellery industry" He said: "Currently, our aim is to go for the premium segments. We aim to reach the highest level of gem revenues through value addition. We also need to make Sri Lanka a prime sourcing destination for gems. Our claim is we have the best sapphire in the world as well as best skilled craftsmen are in Sri Lanka. What we need is the correct vision. Despite having the best sapphires in the world, we are not the best sourcing destination for it due to competition from another country which takes our sapphires and builds its own brand. This is one reason that the EDB is continuously promoting this FACETS show during the past 25-years and also giving SMEs an opportunity to join. EDB introduced the Jewellery Design Competition in parallel. EDB was also the co-partner of ICA Congress held this year. With all these initiatives, we are confident we can more to US$ 1B gem exports."
Chairman FACETS Sri Lanka, Juzar Adamaly said: 'The show has created become a unique business marketplace. It is compact enough to fully explore sourcing opportunities and with a large number of new participants, is the ideal platform to network.'
To commemorate the anniversary edition of FACETS, four postal stamps of Rs 10, 25, 35 and 50 denominations were also launched yesterday. The 150 booths at the FACETS 2015 show were already sold out two months ago.