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Take slowdown as opportunity: Modi to jewellery sector

By Sanjay Singh,IANS,

Surat : India’s $50-billion gems and jewellery industry should take the advantage of the global economic slowdown to build a strong overseas market by offering products at “cost-effective” prices, said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi here Friday.

“I have decided to take global recession as an opportunity. We can market our products (diamond, gems and other jewellery) cost-effectively. Recession has built up as prices of commodities have gone up,” Modi said in his inaugural address at an international conference on gems and jewellery.

The three-day conference, jointly organised by the state government and the industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), is aiming to promote the slowdown-hit gems and jewellery industry.

Modi said the gems and jewellery sector should market its products abroad at cost-effective prices. This would encourage overseas buyers, he said.

India’s share in the world’s gems and jewellery exports is only 4 percent.

According to the chief minister, the industry needs latest technology and research and development facilities if it wants to compete with the global players.

Modi said his government was working out plans to upgrade the industry and was already in talks with industry representatives.

Although the Gujarat government has announced tax cuts for the industry, it is still looking for some relief from the central government, especially in the second economic stimulus package, expected to be announced this week.

“I will take up the concerns of the industry with the central government,” Modi told the delegates.

There are over 10,000 diamond polishing and cutting units in Surat that employ around 300,000 people. The city boasts of 16.5 percent of the state gross domestic product (GDP) and earned $8 billion in exports last year.

Diamond unit owners here have complained to the government that many international buyers stopped coming to India after the Mumbai terror strikes. The Diamond units in Surat remained closed for over a month and reopened on Christmas day.