Sunday, June 03, 2007

India to help African nations develop jewellery industry

NEW DELHI: India has offered technical support and skill-training help to top diamond and gold producing African nations, including South Africa, to develop their gem and jewellery industry. India believes it would be beneficial for the African nations, the largest producers of rough diamonds and gold, as well as India, which is its biggest consumer.

Seeking long-term relationship on a mutually beneficial basis, Union Minister of State for Commerce, Jairam Ramesh, had already held discussions with the Mission heads of some African nations in Delhi, including South Africa, Ghana and Namibia, while a top-level business delegation was likely to visit these nations soon to formalise ties.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Ramesh said almost 20 lakh workforce was directly or indirectly employed in the gem and jewellery industry, and India needed to find assured sources of raw material to ensure growth of the industry.


"Almost the entire gold and diamond sold or processed in India is imported. Having futuristic arrangements and agreements with top diamond and gold producing nations will help this crucial sector to thrive. The aim is to make India a global hub for diamond market," he added.

Stating that Africa alone accounted for nearly 50 per cent of the world's total diamond production, Mr. Ramesh said India was specifically looking at South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Namibia and Angola for rough diamonds. Most of the rough diamonds came from Antwerp in Belgium, but now major suppliers had shown keen interest in supplying uncut stones directly to Indian companies, he added.

Diamond imports

India's diamond imports in 2006-07 stood at $9 billion, while that of gold was $11 billion. Interestingly, India is the largest diamond cutting and polishing centre in the world. India is also the world's top gold consumer, accounting for about 20 per cent of global demand at 800 tonnes annually.

Joint venture initiatives

"Though we are working towards developing our resources in Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, it will take 5-10 years. However, it will still not be enough to meet our demands. This African initiative would give a boost to the Indian gem and jewellery industry," said Mr. Ramesh.

India has also proposed to develop the gem and jewellery industry of these Africa nations, besides providing skill training. Then there could be joint venture initiatives between the companies and trade bodies of India and African nations, the Minister added.

Link to The Hindu : Business : India to help African nations develop jewellery industry