PHNOM PENH, June 13 (Xinhua) — Cambodia has eyed to become a precious stone and jewelry hub in Southeast Asia region in the near future, Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said Thursday.
Speaking at the opening of the 5th international gems and jewelry fair here, the minister said that with the fast growing market of over 14 million populations, Cambodia has emerged as one of the most attractive and fastest growing economies in the region.
“Gems and jewelry industry apart from being one of the key trade promotional areas of Cambodia, it is also an industry playing important roles for tourist attractions,” he said.
“Gems and jewelry fairs have been positioned as the most important sourcing platforms in Cambodia, and the country plans to be the prominent gem and jewelry market supplier in Southeast Asia region in the near future.”
He said with the many tax preferential or tax-free treatments extended to Cambodia as one of the Least Developed Countries by many developed nations including the United States, gems and jewelry traders around the region might move their bases to Cambodia to take advantages of their reduced tariffs on imports.
Besides, he said, Cambodia was admitted as a member of the Kimberley Process on November 30, 2012 in Washington D.C., the United States.
The Kimberley Process (KP) is a joint governments, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds– rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments. As of November 2012, the KP has 54 participants, representing 80 countries and regions, according to its website.
“As a member of the Kimberley Process, Cambodia will be able to obtain significant advantages to win legal trust in such industry, and be able to attract major investors to establish diamond-cutting factories in Cambodia,” Cham Prasidh said.
He said the gem and jewelry industry would create tens of thousands of jobs for the people, enabling them to acquire specific skills in cutting diamonds, as well as opening Cambodian market to the European Community, the United States and in other countries.
The impoverished country launched its first gem and jewelry laboratory in May last year under the joint venture with the London-based Intertek Company.
The laboratory is a venue to provide quality assurances, product testing, inspection and certification to ensure that all jewelry products sold in Cambodia are of specified quality and standard.
The 4-day fair, opened on Thursday at the Diamond Island Exhibition Center, brought together 78 exhibitors, mostly from Cambodia, Thailand, China’s Hong Kong, and Singapore, Cham Prasidh said.
An exhibitor from Hong Kong said the fair was a good opportunity for his company to seek new customers in Cambodia.
“This is the first time our company displays gem and diamond products here. There are a lot people coming here and they know a lot of jewelry. Hopefully, we can meet some new customers,” Isipro Ibasco, manager of Christelle Limited, told Xinhua.
Local exhibitors said the fair was a chance to promote their shops and also helped the government in promoting gem and jewelry industry.
“My company has joined such event every year, and I hope that the sales this year will be better than that of last year,” San Cheng Hak, manager of Cheng Hak Gems and Diamonds Co., said. “At our shop, all jewelry products are made in Cambodia, but some precious stones and diamonds are imported.”