As coronavirus scare spreads, gem and jewellery exports may lose sheen

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The Coronavirus outbreak is expected to hit consumer demand and affect India’s gem & jewellery exports, says industry experts. Globally, over 80,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported. South Korea health authorities said the number of coronavirus cases in the country rose to 893 on Tuesday and 60 fresh cases have been reported. 

The Indian gems & jewellery industry has estimated an additional loss of 5 per cent in its exports on account of Coronavirus, besides a generally low demand due to economic slowdown. The sudden Coronavirus outbreak in countries like Japan, China and South Korea have also contributed to a sharp fall in demand and impacted some export orders to these nations. 

A jewellery trade fair to be hosted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council has already been rescheduled to May from March 2020, as Coronavirus scare hangs over the country. Often, such major events help Indian gems & jewellery exporters bag a big chunk of orders. 

An industry veteran said: “Most of the countries where we export have registered virus cases. This will have a 5 per cent drop in exports in the immediate term.”

In the first 10 months of FY20 (April 2019-January 2020), the overall gross exports of gems & jewellery showed a 9.17 per cent decline (to the tune of $2966.42 million) during the month of January 2020 when compared with $3265.88 million in January 2019, the Gems & Jewellary Exports Promotion Council (GJEPC) data show.

Colin Shah, vice-chairman of the council, said: “The GJPEC will work with the government and bankers to ensure our exporters don’t get impacted on credit against receivables. Secondly, we will also have to put greater efforts in developing new markets, and thirdly, we hope we get policy respite on duties and taxation to ensure maximum manufacturing shifts to India”.

The council has identified several new markets for exporting Indian gems & jewellery. At this juncture, the council has suggested exporters of cut and polished diamonds to focus more on Russia, Brazil, the UK, Vietnam, Singapore, France and Germany. Countries like the UK, France, Qatar, Australia and Thailand can be explored for exporting gold jewellery products. The UAE, UK , Germany and Singapore can be ventured in for exporting coloured gems. To tap opportunities in the export of immitation jewellery, markets like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and South Africa could be assessed, the council said.

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