VAT duty to be relaxed as Thailand bids to become gem capital of the world

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Thailand is bidding to become the gem capital of the world, one of the country’s top jewellery experts has announced ahead of the 57th Bangkok Gem and Jewelry Fair (BGJF) later this month.

BGJF, which is held in Bangkok from February 24-28, has grown to become the fifth biggest industry show in the world. And Somchai Phornchindarak, president of the Gems, Jewelry and Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand (GJPCT), believes the show is only set to gain in prominence as Thailand becomes the primary source of gems.

The relaxation of tax laws is also poised to help its cause, making it more competitive with places such as Hong Kong.

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“In three to five years time Thailand will become gem hub of ASEAN, but we will not rest there,” declared Phornchindarak. “I want it to be capital of the world, that’s why we are asking for government support.”

Recent discussions with the Thai government towards securing zero duty status for the industry – to bring it closer to Hong Kong – are starting to bear fruit, said Phornchindarak.

He partially attributes this to the unification of the 13 gems and jewellery associations under a single body under the GJPCT.

The package, subject to be formalised by the Thai government includes the exemption of VAT for imports of finished diamonds and gemstones for manufacturing, rough stones for manufacturing and sale, machinery tools and essential materials.

Suttipong Damrangsakul, president of the Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association (TGJTA), said it is thought that the government could ratify the proposals before the end of the year. “We’re 90% there,” he said. “By September we will have better tools to compete with Hong Kong.”

Organisers of BGJF claim the quality of gemstones on offer at this year’s show is higher than at other exhibition.

International visitors are being offered accommodation in one of Bangkok’s hotels to assist with their stay. Free hotel coupons can be claimed by registering online at www.bangkokgemsfair.com

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