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  • Rashad Abelson, legal expert at Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in responsible business conduct unit
  • The host of the next ASEAN Gems & Jewellery Association Conference HKJJA chairman Ken Lo
  • Group photo of conference attendees

ASEAN conference strengthens ties in the region

The 8th edition of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Gems & Jewellery Association Conference hosted by Jewellery Exporters’ Association of Turkey (JTR) was held in Istanbul from 8 to 12 November 2019, gathered eight ASEAN member countries including Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam and around 30 non-ASEAN countries and regions.


At the opening, Turkey's deputy trade minister Riza Tuna Turagay reviewed the industry in the past year. According to him, Turkey exported jewellery to 155 countries and regions in 2018, an upsurge of over 30 percent to US$4.4 billion making it among top-three countries in the world in gold jewellery production. The conference was considered as a great opportunity for the country to up its game on the market share in the global jewellery industry. Turkey currently targets to be one of the centres in jewellery trade and stone-cutting. Programmes relevant to precious-stone cutting, for instance jewellery engineering courses in Istanbul Commerce University, and stone-cutting workshops and laboratories have been launched. JTR chairman Mustafa Kama hoped the conference would provide all industry players an opportunity to review existing relations and form new relationships. 


The conference covered a vast range of themes through sharings and panel discussions. World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) president Ernest Blom was one of the keynote speakers. In response to the market share of lab-grown diamond which is on an upward trend, he said the motto of trade nowadays is “know the origin of the product”, as long as the origin of lab-grown diamonds are clearly indicated so, the development is welcomed. However, he predicts lab grown diamonds will gradually lose their value while the price growth of natural diamond will remain in stable.


Marketing strategies for the younger generations is one of the hot topics recently. ASEAN Gems & Jewellery Association (AGJA) board member & past president of the Federation of Goldsmiths and Jewellers Associations of Malaysia (FGJAM) Ermin Siow shared: “Product design has to be unique, customised and suitable for the targeted generation. I suggest the adaptation of a lean pricing strategy. Social media plays an important role in the way companies do business. My company is based in Malaysia, we use website for marketing and hence, events and influencers to boost our marketing effects.” Nadir Gold commercial sales and e-commerce manager Berat Özkan saw eye to eye on the Siow’s sharing and said: “We are the first company in Turkey to sell gold in grams, and gold coins online. Our sales on digital media increased by 15 percent yoy. It is necessary to have a good situation analysis, vision, mission, and strategy in order to realise digital transformation. Digital marketing allows us to reach out to more people at a lower cost.”


The establishment and development of ASEAN as a regional community have benefitted its member countries from removing trade barriers to enhancing free flow of investment. The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council of India (GJEPC) chairman Pramod Kumar Agrawal believed establishing mutually beneficial trade relations would enhance the industry in a whole and get through the challenging time together. The Hong Kong Jewellery & Jade Manufacturers Association (HKJJA) chairman Ken Lo said he was glad to see ASEAN countries have began to remove trade barriers between ASEAN member countries and hoped convenient trade would be achieved. He then took the opportunity to invite all attendees to participate in the next conference that would organise in Hong Kong next year. 

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