* PGJDC official says sector needs to create awareness about latest technology being used by other countries
Gem exporters have stressed the authorities concerned to expedite the entire value chain by undertaking different initiatives, including raising value chain productivity, streamlining common facility training and manufacturing gems processing centres across Pakistan.
The country can add further value of more than $500 million export to touch $1.5 billion annually by exporting its value-added precious and semi precious coloured gemstones, an official of the Pakistan Gems and Jewellery Development Company (PGJDC) said.
“Currently we are exporting our 65 percent precious gemstones in raw shape at a throwaway price because our workforce and professionals are not aware of latest mining skills besides traders do not have the facilities and resources for value-addition,” he explained.
The sector needs to create awareness about latest technology being used by other countries and also needs to focus on value-added exports of gemstone from Pakistan.
To achieve $1.5 export target annually, PGJDC has already established country’s Gems and Jewellery Training and Manufacturing Centre (GJTMC) in some parts of the country.
But the centres were not fully operative due to insufficient experts and lack of funds.
GJTMC should not only be used to impart technical training but industry should also allow using the machines to produce their big orders on latest machines by taking them on lease.
Karachi GJTMC was first of the five planned centres established by PGJDC. Such centres are working in Lahore, Gilgit and Quetta, but they were not fully functional.
CAD/CAM a state of the art jewellery manufacturing technology has already been introduced in Pakistan by PGJDC. These centres are in the position to provide state of the art training in cutting and polishing gemstones as well as common processing facilities in order to enhance the value of gemstones sold the local and international markets.
The trade would respond positively and the exports, and also imports, would grow to hundreds of millions of dollars if the concerned authorities turn serious.
Pakistani gemstones are much liked by traders from Thailand, Sri Lanka and China.
Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world that abounds in precious and semi-precious stones.
The stakeholders expect the government’s interest in the sector which has so far failed to achieve any significant support from successive governments.
Small traders, dealers and artisans are unanimous in saying that unless the government provides financing opportunities to budding entrepreneurs, the industry’s exports will not show strong growth going ahead.
Combined gems and jewellery exports hit the significant $1.90 billion mark in fiscal 2016, up 81% from $540 million in the same period last year.
The gem exports are still too low if compared to jewellery exports, especially if seen in the context of the inherent potential in the segment.
All Pakistan Commercial Exporters Association (APCEA), Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and European Union are afoot to enhance exports.
Exporters export value added products instead of raw material to get maximum monetary benefit from their products.
The Commerce Ministry needs to pay special attention to this neglected sector.
Humayun Ahmad, executive member of sector body, said the jewellers produce around 75 percent from recycling the old jewellery while 20 percent imports of gold is used in making fresh jewellery.
He said the government’s decision for proceeds from export of jewellery required to be remitted within 120 days and time limit has now been enhanced to 240 days would boost the export.
Related Technical Assistance (TRTA-II) programme in collaboration with TDAP with the aim to assess the sectoral competitiveness and value chain analysis of the four selected sectors; rice, gems and jewellery, readymade garments and leather gloves should also be tackled on serious ground.
TRTA II programme is funded by EU, implemented by United Nations Industrial Development Organisation in collaboration with International Trade Centre and the World Intellectual Property Organisation.