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8TH ASEAN CONFERENCE HELD FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ISTANBUL

Known as the G20 of the jewellery world, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is holding its eighth Gems and Jewellery Association Conference in Istanbul for the first time this year.

The Jewellery Exporters’ Association, with the support of Turkey Promotion Group, hosted the 8th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Countries Gems and Jewellery Association Conference in Istanbul for the first time.

With over 100 delegates from 37 Southeast Asian countries, including Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, the opening speeches of the 8th ASEAN Conference were delivered by the Deputy Minister of Trade of the Turkish Republic, Rıza Tuna Turagay; Turkish Exporters’ Assembly Chairman Ismail Gülle; ASEAN Gems and Jewellery Association Head Suttipong Damrongsakul; and Jewellery Exporters ‘ Association Chairman Mustafa Kamar.

“G20 of Jewellery gathers in Istanbul”

Stating that the east and west have for the first time become such close thanks to the meeting of the jewellery sector association in Istanbul, a bridge between the two continents, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Jewellery Exporters’ Association Mustafa Kamar asked why a modern Silk Road could not have been built between countries as he underlined the importance they attach to the ASEAN Conference.

”During the conference we will review the existing relations among the G20 countries of Jewellery and set off to build new collaborations,” said Mustafa Kamar adding:

“With a population of about 80 million, GDP of USD 784 billion and export volume of USD 168 billion, Turkey is the only real bridge between East and West, which boasts a population of 1.2 billion and GDPof USD 24 trillion... Our country is one of the strongest players in the world with nearly 35 thousand retail jewelers, 6 thousand manufacturers, about 1000 exporters, and 2 refinaries who are members of the LBMA, which only has 64 such members in the world. Today, we are one of the 5 largest markets in the world jewellery sector together with India, China, USA and Russia, one of the 3 largest producers together with India and China, and 3 largest countries exporting its production together with Italy and China. Last year, our country recorded a 36% increase in jewelllery exports reaching USD 4.4 billion with USD 2.5 billion exports within the scope of the outward processing regime and USD 3.5 billion in tourism exports. We organized visits to Vicenza, Hong Kong, Moscow, Dubai, and United States jewellery fairs, as well as visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Miami; and are working hard to achieve our goals through excellent B2Bs.”

“Inward and outward processing regimes should be in effect with all countries, trade should be facilitated with gold replacing money”

”Having a limited say and trade volume in the jewellery sector is upsetting for us, “ said Kamar adding, “ 37 participant countries in the conference achieve USD 88.5 billion in imports and USD 111 billion in exports of jewellery. The ASEAN countries, where nearly 650 million people live, have a jewellery import of USD 4.1 billion, while only about USD 45 million is bought from Turkey. To increase our exports from Turkey, we need to explain the contents of the difficult FTA agreements to our bureaucracy. We can create a doping effect in the foreign markets by solving high import duties, and in the domestic market by taxing only labour. One of the most important issues of our sector, Outward and Inward Processing Regimes, should be implemented with all countries. In addition to this, we can take a big step forward in Swift transactions, used as a trump card in trade wars, by facilitating trade with gold, by now a currency substitute, which can also be used as a trading tool. We should raise awareness about the jewellery sector through cooperating with governments on all these issues, and start working as soon as possible to regulate the issues raised through establishing commissions.”

Suttipong Damrongsakul: “Our Efforts Will Lead to the Development of Stronger Jewellery Markets”

Suttipong Damrongsakul, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ASEAN Gems and Jewellery Association, began his speech by saying: “Thanks to the strong unity among our members from the Gems and Jewelry Associations, the ASEAN Association is now officially established.”

Suttipong Damrongsakul further said: “With these projects, we believe that greater collaboration will take place among gems and jewelry associations, producers, makers, suppliers, distributors and retailers in the ASEAN region and beyond. Our determination and efforts to achieve this goal will lead to the development of stronger jewelry markets in ASEAN and non-ASEAN countries in the near future.”

Ernest Blom, Behnar Karaşen and Prof. Dr. Emre Alkin make their marks at the Conference

Following the opening speeches of the conference, Ernest Blom, President of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, gave a speech on “Lab Grown Diamonds, Natural Diamonds, International Diamond Trade and the Role of WFDB in this Trade.” This was followed by the speech of Behnar Karashen, Director of International Projects at the Rare Metal Refinery. Prof. Dr. Emre Alkin, Academician, Economist and Author, gave a presentation on ”Trade Wars, Expectations, and the Future of Economy”.

”Marketing Strategies For New Generation” discussed in the First Panel

As part of the conference, Celine Lau, Informa Markets Director of Jewellery Fairs, gave a brief speech, followed by the panel on “Marketing Strategies for New Generation,” moderated by Ya’akov Almor, Editor-in-Chief of Idex-World Diamond Magazine.

“Easy Trade, Trade Wars, Free Trade Agreements” the subject of the Second Panel.

What followed next in the conference were the speeches of Aycan Karagöz, Atty. of the Rare Metal Refinery, and Rashad Abelson, OECD Legal Expert on “Responsible Gold Supply.” The next panel was on “Easy Trade, Trade Wars, Free Trade Agreements,” moderated by Mia Florencio, AGJA Board Member and President of Guild of Philippine Jewellers Inc.

The 8th ASEAN Conference came to an end with assessments by Suttipong Damrongsakul, Chairman of the Board of Directors of AGJA; and Mustafa Kamar, Chairman of the Jewellery Exporters’ Association on issues addressed earlier in the day.