PH jewelry companies call for gov’t support
MANILA, Philippines—The Confederation of Philippine Jewelers Inc. (CPJI) has submitted to the government a menu of strategic proposals meant to help “legitimize” the local jewelry industry.
Proposals include revisiting the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 8502 or the Jewelry Industry Development Act to simplify accreditation; simplifying export and import policies and regulations and increasing accessibility to gold and silver, said CPJI president Mia M. Florencio.
During the presentation of the jewelry industry roadmap yesterday, Florencio said these initiatives would not only fully legitimize the local industry, but also convert small scale businesses into world class players.
She said these would also help create more job opportunities for the less educated and out-of-school youth.
Florencio admitted that a number of jewelers in the country were engaged in underground businesses, as they consider the government’s tax policy “too restrictive.”
Then there are those who have resorted to smuggling and misdeclaration of goods.
According to Florencio, estimates show that much as 80 percent of the jewelry sold in the market are smuggled, while the figures on jewelry exports ($27 million as of end-2013) and domestic sales (P700 million during the same period), are undervalued.
Government support for the sector also remained marginal, at about P20 million over the last 10 years.
This paled in comparison to the kind of support that the Thailand jewelry industry has received from its government.
Based on Florencio’s presentation on Thursday, Thailand spent $13.9 million from 2004 to 2014 for its jewelry industry, equivalent to about P62 million per year over 10 years.
This helped increase Thailand’s jewelry exports to $8.9 billion in the first eight months of 2012 from just $1.45 million in 1990.
According to Florencio, if the local industry were to get at least P40 million a year, even for just five years, that amount could already significantly boost the country’s exports.
The jewelry sector is said to have great growth potential considering the country’s abundant natural resources, particularly gold deposits, estimated to be the fifth largest in the world. She also cited the availability of cheap and skilled labor in the country.
Florencio noted a Harvard report commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry in 1987 that said that “the jewelry industry, where labor skilled in production and design is critical to international competitiveness, exhibits all the characteristics of an activity in which the Philippines has a competitive edge. Products where the skilled labor content is high must form the heart of any coherent strategy which seeks to encourage nontraditional exports.”
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