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INTERVIEW WITH MR UBAIDULLAH QADRI, CHAIRMAN STANDING COMMITTEE OF FPCCI ON GEMS and JEWELLERY PRODUCERS, MANUFACTURERS and EXPORTERS.

Byline: KHALIL AHMED

PAGE: TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE? PLEASE:

UBAIDULLAH QADRI: I have been striving hard for the promotion of gems and jewellery sector in Pakistan for last three decades in various capacities, few of which are:

I am at present Chairman Standing Committee of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (PFCCI) on Gems and Jewellery Producers, Manufacturers and Exporters.

I am founder member of All Pakistan Gem Merchants and Jewellers Association.

I have worked as Secretary Information of APGJMA for several times.

I have been elected twice Member of Executive Committee of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).

Elected several times as Member of the general body.

Worked as Chairman FPCCI Standing Committee on Pak-Brunei.

Worked as Chairman FPCCI Standing Committee on Public Relations.

Former Vice Chairman, FPCCI Standing Committee on Fair and Exhibitions.

Former Vice Chairman, FPCCI Standing Committee on Religious Affairs.

I am one of the leading exporters of gems and jewellery.

I am a well-known social worker and philanthropist in Karachi.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON FOREIGN TRADE OF GEMS AND JEWELLERY?

UBAIDULLAH QADRI: Pakistan is bestowed with huge natural and human resources, which can contribute immensely in the development and exploitation of untapped potentials. Due to lack of interest, this sector is facing serious crisis at the international level and the absence of government strategy towards the development of this sector enlarges Pakistan's reliance on India and other regional countries. This sector brings a minuscule share of foreign exchange in Pakistan as compared to its real worth and existing potential. The linkages of Pakistani market are also weak with international markets, which are the main hurdle in the trade and they further create problems in identifying true market potential. It is worth mentioning that our export of gems and jewellery has risen from $1.5 million in 2001 to around $300 million at present. Mostly gems are found in Northern Areas, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Our gems very much valued in the US, Germany, Hong Kong, Thailand, Latin America, South Asian and European countries. Pakistan's gems and jewellery sector has huge potential and our country can become regional leader by adopting modern techniques and methodologies of value addition as it is home to a number of varieties of expensive gems. In view of the potentially huge world market for gems and jewellery and the fact that Pakistan has vast natural reserves of precious and semi precious gemstones, cheap labor and rich tradition of craftsmanship in jewellery manufacturing, the government has given this sector the status of industry. Due to untapped potential, bulk of jewellery is imported or smuggled from India and China, which is the main obstacle in the protection of domestic industry.

The efforts of Pakistan Gems and Jewellery Development Company for the reduction of duty on natural pearls and precious/semi precious stones and exemption of customs duty and sales tax on import of diamonds, pearls and precious/semi-precious gem is appreciable step for the development of this industry but due to lack of interest by government and policy makers, our industry has gone far behind our regional partners. Our regional partners achieved significant potential in this sector with the advancement of technology, skills and other factors.

PAGE: WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON EXPORT AND IMPORT OF GEMS AND JEWELLERY DURING CURRENT FISCAL YEAR?

UBAIDULLAH QADRI: Pakistan exports gems mostly in raw form due to the unavailability of gem cutting and polishing facilities. The interpersonal cut throat competition and narrow vision in the present scenario also formulate this industry as under developed industry in Pakistan. Our gems and jewellery sector faces specialisation problem such as rudimentary methods of making jewellery, low technology, high cost of production, high barriers in the entry of business, traditional designs and no innovations. Moreover, there is no proper technology for cutting and polishing of stones in Pakistan. After cutting and polishing of the stones by neighboring countries, they are sold in global markets and some quantities are also brought back to Pakistan, which makes our product uncompetitive in global market in terms of cost and brand.

Moreover, lack of appropriate skills, vested interest, regulatory bottlenecks, inadequate marketing and branding with poor channel of precious and semi-precious gemstones in domestic and international markets and technological limitation are the actual factors for low value addition and also hamper the efforts of new investment to make any significant progress in this regard.

PAGE: WHAT ARE THE MAIN REASONS FOR LOWER TRADE VOLUME OF GEMS AND JEWELLERY AMONG THE COUNTRIES IN ASIA?

UBAIDULLAH QADRI: Pakistan has enormous wealth of expensive gems such as ruby, emerald, tourmaline, garnet, topaz, peridot, aquamarine, spinel, pargasite, diopside, moonstone, pink topaz, sapphire, zircon, feldspar, agate, serpentine jade, epidote, pink beryl (morganite), purple beryl, sphene, zoisite, lapis lazuli, turquoise, and kunzite etc. There is no low trade amongst the Asian countries. There is high demand of gems and jewellery in Asian region. Gems and jewellery are traditionally luxury items of consumption, and are highly elastic with income. People mostly consume this product as wealth with the expectation of higher value in future and assume this product as real capital. With the development and rising per capita disposable income of Asian tigers such as Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries, the demand and industry of jewellery are on rise during the current years.

The demand of gems and jewellery basically has increased in many countries like India, Thailand, Korea and China. The demand after the seasonal monsoon begins with the start of the festival season and continues until May of the next year.

PAGE: GIVE YOUR COMMENTS ON BENEFITS OF TRADE WITH NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES?

UBAIDULLAH QADRI: In gem and jewellery sector, India has monopoly in international market. Pakistan can break the monopoly by upgrading its industry and increasing its share in world market. Our gems and stones are of more superior quality than our regional partners, but due to lack of technology and high wastage in production process, we are producing inferior quality. One of the significant reasons for our low exports is the uncompetitive pricing of jewellery. This exists due to high labor cost and high wastage, as compared to our neighboring countries. The other impediment in development of this industry is the lack of design schools and qualified designers. Adoption of latest designing and manufacturing techniques, establishment of related institutions with foreign or local experts would help the production of better quality gems and jewellery in the local market as well as in the foreign, as without a stable domestic market exports will not pick-up.

Due to infantry stage of our industry, the large quantity of Pakistan's precious stones is smuggled in raw form to neighboring countries. So, there is a dire need to train the jewellers in cutting and polishing segment for proper development. We must bring latest technology for production of jewellery through modern machines, which can maximize productivity and minimize wastage. In Pakistan, the wastage in hand casting is as high as 15 percent, which can be reduced to around 5 percent by using modern machines.
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Publication:Pakistan & Gulf Economist
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Feb 24, 2013
Words:1182
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