Flags of the 10 ASEAN member-countries.
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A recently formalised alliance of Southeast Asian jewellers is bolstering calls for economic integration in the hope of making ASEAN the next centre of gemstone and jewellery trade.
There have been countless initiatives aiming to effectively unite the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) into a single economic bloc that functions cohesively, with relevant cooperation in the fields of culture, politics and trade.
In October, the region’s gemstone and jewellery sector officially jumped on the integration bandwagon by establishing the ASEAN Gems and Jewellery Association (AGJA). The group is calling for a unified tax system, among others, to boost its collective capacity, according to AGJA Chairman Suttipong Damrongsakul of Thailand.
ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Damrongsakul sits down with JNA to talk about the goals of AGJA and ASEAN’s role in the international jewellery scene.
How important is ASEAN in the global gemstone and jewellery sector today?
Suttipong Damrongsakul: For many decades, ASEAN has been recognised as top manufacturers and exporters of gem and jewellery products to the US, EU and other markets in the Asia Pacific, with over 90 percent of the manufacturers being OEMs. However, as the world rapidly evolves, these OEMS should also develop to become ODMs to add value to their products and to the industry. It’s crucial for businesses to build branding strategies, create their own designs and infuse new technology into their manufacturing processes. Driving the gem and jewellery industry forward will also enhance the competitiveness of the ASEAN region in the global stage.
How do you plan to achieve a unified tax system among AGJA members?
Damrongsakul: This is a very important issue for our member countries. Though the ASEAN Economic Community has been established, the tax system in some countries remains complicated, making it difficult for businesses to seamlessly export gem and jewellery products. As such, AGJA will represent the trade in meeting with government agencies to promote the industry through more supportive regulations. AGJA also plans to hold talks with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and the ASEAN ministers.
The full story will appear on JNA's Jan/Feb 2020 issue.