Cambodia – New mobile app blazes trail into cashless payments

Cambodian software development firm Pathmazing officially launched its Tesjor mobile application for meal ordering yesterday, aiming to kickstart digital payments in the country by only offering cashless transaction options.

The application allows users to order food from 85 restaurant outlets in Phnom Penh for dine-in, pick up or delivery. The platform is backed by several digital payments options, including partnerships with Wing, Pay&Go, Acleda Bank, as well as integration with ABA Bank’s newly developed PayWay payment gateway that enables payments for Visa and MasterCard holders.

Steven Path, CEO of Pathmazing, said during the launch ceremony that the primary purpose of the app was to place Cambodia on a trajectory towards a more digital economy and widespread e-commerce activity.

He added that Tesjor was currently the only platform in the country that relies entirely on digital payments.

“Today, we believe that e-commerce is at the launching pad, and we are going to experience explosive growth, especially in the next couple of years,” he said. “What we believe, in order to accelerate e-commerce, is that we need to require e-payments.”

Tesjor aims to instil trust in online payments to help steer customers away from their reliance on cash and spur the growth of digital payments and e-commerce, Path explained.

United States Ambassador William Heidt emphasised during a speech for the event that Tesjor was developed by Cambodians and represented a source of pride for the burgeoning tech sector in the Kingdom.

“The launch of Tesjor is great news for Cambodia’s tech sector as well as concrete proof for one very important thing, and that is that the ingredients for successful tech ventures are now in place in Cambodia,” he said. “This is an app that I am pretty sure is going to revolutionise the dine-in and carry-out business in Cambodia, and eventually the tourism business too.”

Tesjor, which translates to “tourism” in Khmer, also intends to position itself as a platform for tourists visiting Cambodia through which they could pay for nearly all their expenses directly on the app. Minister of Tourism Thong Khun has endorsed the application for its potential benefits to the country’s tourism sector.

International travelers cite politics as factor in US trips

Some international travelers are citing politics as a factor in whether to visit the U.S. this year, according to survey research by the tourism marketing agency Brand USA.

The findings add to existing concerns about the tourism industry. Other new data shows that a slowdown in international arrivals to the U.S. began last spring and continued through August, likely due to the strong U.S. dollar and sluggish economies elsewhere.

POLITICS EMERGING AS A CONCERN FOR TRAVELERS

A survey for Brand USA asked travelers from 11 countries how the political climate influenced the likelihood of them visiting the U.S. in the next 12 months.

Those saying the political climate made them less likely to visit increased from December to February among travelers from every country surveyed but China.

Travelers from Mexico registered the most concern over political sentiment as a factor against visiting.

Travelers from Canada, Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom and France registered moderate sensitivity over political sentiment.

Travelers from India, Japan, Brazil and South Korea were the least sensitive to the U.S. political climate as a factor against visiting, but their likelihood of visiting also decreased over the three-month period, just less dramatically than the others.

(Read also: Trump’s travel ban basics: What you need to know)

Chinese travelers were the only nationality in the survey who said the U.S. political climate made them more likely to visit.

Brand USA surveys typically provide a multiple-choice list of factors influencing travel plans. Last summer, respondents began writing in issues related to politics as a factor. “So we created a discreet option for that and began to measure that,” Brand USA economist Carroll Rheem said in an interview.

When international travelers were asked in December and again in February “what if any impact the political climate has on their likelihood to visit the U.S. … over the course of time we saw an increase in that as a reason for people being discouraged from visiting the U.S.,” she said.

ARRIVALS DATA

International arrivals to the U.S. last year experienced the first sustained decline since the U.S. economy began to recover from the recession, according to newly released and revised arrivals data from the U.S. Department of Commerce National Travel and Tourism Office.

Between April and August of 2016, international arrivals to the U.S. dropped nearly 4 percent compared with the same five months of 2015, declining from 17.8 million to 17.1 million, the data shows. Prior to the second quarter of 2016, international arrivals to the U.S. had climbed every quarter year-over-year since late 2009.

It takes months for arrivals data to accurately be compiled from all U.S. international airports and border crossings, so whether the downward trend continued into fall 2016 and winter 2017 won’t be clear for some time.

(Read also: A look at what’s in, what’s out in Trump’s new travel ban)

BOOKING DATA

Despite concerns raised by arrivals and survey data, Rheem said preliminary data on airline bookings to the U.S. for 2017 shows continued growth. That booking data “is consistent with what we’re hearing from the trade,” Rheem said. “They’ve said things are stable if not growing. So some of the headlines out there about dramatic downward shifts or challenges in bookings are not really consistent with what we’ve been seeing in that data.”

Rheem cautioned that it’s “hard to tell” what the impact of the political concerns showing up in surveys might be. Arrivals data shows what’s already happened, but surveys merely hint at future behavior.

“There’s a good group of these people who have concerns who have a wait-and-see approach” about vacation planning, she said. “And there are others who are somewhat impacted or slightly negative but at the same time will end up booking. It’s not a complete deterrent, but it’s a bit of a concern.” Sentiment versus booking behavior “don’t always break in the same direction,” she said.

Brand USA adjusts its marketing strategies in response to survey trends in an effort to make travelers feel secure about concerns that might prevent a visit. One strategy involves inviting “influencers” — individuals with large online or social-media followings — to visit the U.S. and then tell stories about their (hopefully positive) experiences.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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SINGAPORE ranks 1th in travel freedom among Southeast Asian countries

Henley & Partners, a firm that studies citizenship and residency visa issues, has announced that Singapore ranks first in travel freedom among countries in Southeast Asia.

The data was announced in the firm’s 2017 visa restriction index, which was created in cooperation with the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The index measures the number of countries a particular country’s citizens can visit on a free-visa policy.

Currently, the Indonesian passport enables its holders to travel to 57 countries on a .

The rank shows that Indonesia’s travel freedom is lower than that of Timor Leste, which sits in fourth place with access to 83 countries on a free-visa policy.

(Read also: What your passport color really means)

Singapore tops the index with access to 173 countries on a free-visa policy, followed by Malaysia with access to 164 countries.

In addition, Henley & Partners stated that more and more individuals are living and doing business on an international scale.

“Residency visas and dual citizenship are becoming increasingly attractive options,” the firm said in an official statement as quoted by tempo.co.

According to the firm, additional passports could be the solution to unlocking travel potential for citizens from countries with fewer visa waiver agreements.

“This second passport gives a business person access to the global market, which in turn creates opportunities for growth,” the firm said.

Top 10 ranking

Singapore – 173
Malaysia – 164
Brunei – 151
Timor – 83
Thailand – 71
Philippines – 61
Indonesia – 57
Cambodia – 48
Laos – 48
Vietnam – 45
Myanmar – 41

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Netherlands, Vietnam sign 49 food security contracts.

Hanoi – Forty-nine contracts were signed during the two-day regional conference on food security in Hanoi, which ended Thursday, the Netherlands’ deputy minister of agriculture said.

The Netherlands has three major contracts, which includes a commitment to an investment package worth 150,000 EUR (US$ 162,000) to develop a seafood index and governance, thereby supporting seafood companies in Asia towards achieving sustainability in aquaculture, Sonnema said.

The European nation will also help Vienam implement a project aimed at cutting down post-harvest losses. Both countries will also sign a protocol on enhancing co-operation in food security, she said.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường said the conference focused on steps to promote co-operation between countries to overcome challenges, on creating a sustainable agricultural sector, and on contributing to ensure food security and safety amidst climate change.

At a press conference in the Capital on Thursday, Sonnema said her country, with its experience, expertise, technology and capacity, can help Vietnam build a sustainable agricultural sector.

She spoke about the common grounds the two countries have to enhance co-operation in agricultural development – both sides export agricultural products and both face challenges caused by climate change, especially in water management for agricultural production.

During the Dutch minister’s four-day visit to Vietnam, from March 20 to 23, many events were arranged to boost partnership between Vietnamese and Dutch enterprises, laying the foundation for strengthening economic and trade links between the two countries in the future.

Source – VNS

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How to spot Switzerland’s truly rich

Hanging out in Switzerland before you check out watches at Baselworld and overwhelmed by all the affluence and shiny timepieces? Here’s a way to separate the wheat from the chaff: forget the bling and have a look at the license plate.

Switzerland doesn’t allow vanity plates, so special or lucky numbers have an added value and sell for thousands of francs. While Swiss auctions of license plate numbers can’t quite compete with those in the United Arab Emirates — where the wealthy pay millions of dollars — they are not far behind.

Read also: Longines launches high-tech quartz wristwatch

Just last week, industrialist Otto Ruppen forked out 160,100 francs ($160,400) for VS 1, with the letters standing for the Canton of Valais in western Switzerland. Even more common three or four-digit numbers are in high demand.

“It’s a question of prestige,” said Stefan Cardinale, who works at a dealership that sells Ferraris and Maseratis in Zug, a canton known for its wealth and low taxes. “People who invest in flashy wheels want the world to see how awesome they are.”

Buyers of luxury vehicles regularly inquire about low-digit numbers and are willing to pay a lot for them, Cardinale said. His boss Pierre Sudan owns Zug’s No. 1 plate.

Read also: Bentley’s first-ever, electric concept car is a luxury fever dream

The Swiss system of the two letters indicating the canton followed by a number has been in place since 1933 and unlike most other European countries, it’s not the car that is assigned a plate, but a person. As every new car registering to roam Swiss roads just gets the next highest number in line, the ability to pass on license plates to your children has made low-digit numbers synonymous with old money.

“This might add to some people’s attachment to their license plate,” said Peter Kyburz, head of the Zurich traffic office. “It’s also connected to prestige, as the lower the number, the longer a person or his or her family has been able to drive a car.”

St. Gallen raised almost 1.7 million francs in 2014 by auctioning special numbers that were previously attached to fire trucks, police cars and ambulance vehicles. Kyburz says that Zurich’s auctioning of license plates earns the canton an annual revenue stream of 2.5 million francs to 3 million francs. Just before Christmas, ZH 888 888 yielded a price of 50,280 francs.

Read also: DJ performances in Jakarta to look out for in April

‘Family Heritage’

Zug is the only canton that lets its citizens trade their plates privately without paying a fee to the authorities. Some smaller cantons with fewer registered cars have fixed prices for attractive numbers whereas most of the country’s 26 cantonal traffic offices host websites regularly auctioning new numbers. In Zurich, the country’s most populous region, the bidding for a four-digit plate starts at 2,000 francs.

“After the two license plates LU 100 were stolen from my son’s car — despite being more securely bolted-on than required — we attached our own LU 40 plate even more elaborately,” says Vreni Haeberli, who lives in Aesch in the canton of Lucerne. “We would never sell them, they’re now part of our family heritage.”

Not to forget the publicity factor in the country that hosts one of the world’s biggest watch fairs in Basel March 23-30.

“Having the number 1 on our car is mainly a marketing tool,” says Marcel Kunz, whose taxi company Nova Taxi got lucky when the canton of Bern re-issued the number over 50 years ago. It’s now gracing one of the company’s Tesla X cars and people regularly photograph it. “The long-term publicity effect far exceeds the monetary gains from selling it. Who else can say that not only are they number one, but also own the number 1?”

Source – The JakartaPost

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Cambodia – Microlender in monster deal

Hong Kong financial giant The Bank of East Asia and Sri Lanka’s LOLC announced on Friday that they have jointly acquired a majority stake in Prasac Microfinance, Cambodia’s largest microfinance institution (MFI) by assets, in what could be the largest acquisition of a Cambodian lender to date.

According to a joint company release, The Bank of East Asia (BEA) and LOLC acquired a controlling share of Prasac by purchasing minority stakes held by Dragon Capital Group Ltd, Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries SA (BIO) and the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO).

The acquisition raises LOLC’s existing holding from 22 percent to 70 percent, with BEA holding 21 percent. Prasac retains the remaining 9 percent stake.

The deal was valued at $186 million by Sri Lankan media. Prasac and its shareholders could not be reached yesterday for confirmation, nor was the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) available to confirm whether it had approved the acquisition.

Prasac is Cambodia’s largest deposit-taking MFI with an asset portfolio of $1.3 billion and over $660 million in deposits, according to the joint statement, which added that the deal would help pave the MFI’s path toward becoming a licensed commercial bank.

Sim Senacheert, CEO of Prasac, was quoted in the release as saying that BEA was a strategic investor that would “further contribute to sustainable economic development and financial inclusion in Cambodia”.

David Li, chairman and chief executive of BEA, said the deal marked the financial group’s first foothold in Cambodia and would help it expand its reach to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

“Through Prasac, our bank will further strengthen its presence in Southeast Asia. This strategic investment will enable us to better capitalise on the opportunities arising from China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiatives’,” he was quoted as saying.

This is not the first time Prasac has worked toward securing a strategic investor, a move widely seen as the central bank’s requirements for commercial bank licence eligibility.

In August 2016, the NBC scuttled a deal between Prasac and South Korean financial giant Woori Bank for a 50 percent stake, claiming that the Korean lender was not one of the preferred bidder’s acknowledged by the independent regulatory body.

Cambodian MFIs have attracted the interest of international investors, with several large mergers and acquisitions announced in recent years. In January 2016, Thailand-based Bank of Ayudhya reached an agreement to acquire the local MFI Hattha Kaksekar – a deal that was valued at upwards of $140 million.

BEA’s stake in Prasac would mark the entry of Hong Kong’s third-largest bank into the Cambodian market. The financial group reported $98.7 billion in consolidated assets as of the end of last year.

Source – PhnomPenhPost

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‘World’s first 5G smartphone’ from ZTE set for 2020

The Gigabit Phone promises to reach download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, up to 10 times faster than the 4G services widely in use today.

Chinese tech company ZTE announced Sunday that it had created “the world’s first phone compatible with 5G” mobile internet service.

The Gigabit Phone promises to reach download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, up to 10 times faster than the 4G services widely in use today.

“With the new device, the way people stay connected will be changed forever. Focusing on 5G technologies will be one of the key priorities of ZTE’s global development,” a ZTE spokesman said.

Read also: Huawei unveils preparation for ‘revolutionary’ 5G at Innovation Day

While 5G is not yet supported by any network, it is scheduled to be up and running by 2020, with trial services held during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang by South Korean carrier KT Corp.

Analyst Thomas Husson said ZTE was using the phone to “showcase innovation” and to “offer a glimpse into the future when people will be able to download full movies in seconds” but that, while exciting, “the sad reality is that this smartphone will not end up in consumers’ pockets because both 5G and virtual reality are still years away to be a mass-market consumer reality.”

Still, the Gigabit Phone and similar phones are likely to hit both Western and Eastern markets, as the Chinese company makes up 10 percent market share in the United States, making it the fourth-largest vendor in the country. (sul/kes)

source: TheJakartaPost

Six essential tips for frequent business travelers

Avid business travelers should always be ready for that one-month-away business trip or an unscheduled one in two days.

Traveling for work is not the same as traveling for leisure. It requires efficiency, as you will deal with various business-related activities, such as meetings, conferences or even a gala dinner once you arrive in your destination.

Below are some tips all business travelers should consider in preparing, regardless of the business they are in and the destination they are going to.

Always be prepared

Avid business travelers should always be ready for that one-month away business trip or an unscheduled one in two days, if circumstances demand it. This means your passport should be no less than six months from its expiration date, your visa should be ready and you have done some research about the weather in your destination, the places you will be visiting as well accommodation and transportation options.

If your visa is not yet in your hand, it is recommended to spend some time to apply for it, as the procedure can take a while, depending on your destination country. As for booking a flight, comfort should be your priority, especially on long-haul flights. It is suggested to stick with one or two particular airlines, as they sometimes have promotions for loyal customers and frequent flyer programs.

Pack lightly

When it comes to packing for a business trip, you may want to make George Clooney’s character in Up in The Air ( 2009 ) your role model. For a two- or three-day trip, it is suggested to pack all your belongings in a piece of carry-on luggage.

While a duffel bag may sound practical, it increases the risk of getting your clothes creased and could potentially be a burden on your shoulder. Carrying your belongings on board also means you do not need to claim them once you have landed, saving you precious time.

Make a list of necessary items to store in the suitcase, such as electronic chargers, adaptors and jewelry. Place your laptop in a reachable space, so you do not need to dig through your clothes to get it out for airport security. There are ways to maximize the limited space in a cabin-size suitcase, such as filling your shoes with ties, socks or belts prior to packing them. Turn your shirts, blazers or suits inside out and then fold them horizontally to minimize creases, and bring clothes that cater to more than one purpose. Generally, adjust your clothes to your schedule during the business trip, thus you will not pack too much.

Don’t bring prohibited items

Do some research on prohibited items on your airline to exclude them from your suitcase. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lists banned items and items that require additional screening or will trigger the alarm at airport security. Aside from obvious items like explosives, firearms and sharp objects, you need to be aware of certain types of food and sporting equipment. National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has released a similar list of prohibited items, which included rackets, penknives, fishing rods and selfie monopods.

(Read also: Top tips for flying with children)

Know the rules

Prior to checking in at the airport, there are some rules you should know. Be careful concerning the amount of liquids, gels and creams in your luggage, as several carriers require passengers to limit liquids to 100 mL (3.4 ounces) or less per item and to place them in a clear, resealable bag.

Do note that different airlines have different rules in terms of baggage weight. Garuda Indonesia, for example, limits checked-in baggage to 32 kilograms and carry-on baggage to 7 kg, with certain dimensions, depending on the class and flight.

Avoid wasting time at airport security checkpoints

Use your time as efficiently as possible at airport security checkpoints. Different countries have different airport screening procedures. You may need to take off your shoes, jacket, watch and belt before passing through the metal detector. Large electronic devices and toiletries may need to be checked separately, so be ready get them out of your luggage quickly. The trick, courtesy of the Up in the Air movie, is to take two container bins at the same time. Fill one with your shoes and jacket and the other with your laptop and other required belongings. Put them on the conveyor belt and prepare your ID as well as boarding pass.

Always be ready. Do not wait for your turn to take off your shoes, for instance.

Arrive early

According to TSA, it is recommended to arrive at least two hours ahead of domestic departures and three hours for international flights. Remember that what you need to do at the airport is not just checking in and jumping on the plane. Consider additional time for traffic jam, parking, rental car returns and security screening. (kes)

Source: TheJakarkaPost

Cambodia – Auto parts makers steer toward Poipet

For nearly two decades, Poipet was a one-trick pony, relying on the casinos huddled around its Thai border crossing for its economic fortune. But now a different type of cluster is emerging on the frontier town’s outskirts, where industrial parks are attracting predominantly Japanese manufacturers with a vision for a vast Southeast Asian supply chain network that spreads risk and capitalises on the region’s economic diversity.

Investors have chosen the location carefully. Factories in Poipet’s special economic zones (SEZs) can plug into cheap, stable energy from Thailand while tapping Cambodia’s ready supply of low-cost labour and durable tax incentives. And at 50 metres above sea level, the area is safe from the devastating flooding that ravaged Thailand’s low-lying industrial heartland in 2011.

The floods, which put factories out of production for weeks, convinced many Japanese manufacturers operating in Thailand to spread their investments across the Mekong region to mitigate risks and take advantage of varying cost formulas.

The so-called Thai+1 strategy has brought its own flood of investment to this far corner of the Kingdom, with Japanese corporations setting up auxiliary factories in Poipet to benefit from additional production capacity and far-lower labour costs.

According to one industry source, the average Cambodian factory worker earns less than $200 a month including wages and allowances – nearly half that of their counterparts across the border in Thailand.

Masahi Kono, chief representative of JETRO in Cambodia, the local arm of Japan’s trade and investment promotion agency, said Poipet is developing into an important cog in an integrated supply chain that stretches over 700 kilometres from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City.

Its factories typically assemble labour-intensive components, supplying industrial complexes in Thailand where a higher-skilled workforce carries out the more technical steps of manufacture.

Not surprisingly, proximity to these Thai production centres is highly advantageous.

“The merit of Poipet’s location is [that it allows companies] to import materials from Thailand and export their products back to Thailand immediately,” said Kono.

Staff and shipments can be in Bangkok in under four hours. And it is just a two-hour drive from the NHK Spring factory in Poipet, where workers stitch car seat covers for Toyota vehicles, to Toyota’s 80,000 unit per annum Gateway Plant No2 in eastern Thailand.

Peou Sambath, a board member of Sanco-Cambo Investment Group, a Japanese-Cambodian joint venture that operates a SEZ on 67 hectares in Poipet, said the industrial park provides a strategically located platform for Thai+1 investments.

“Sanco SEZ can be used as an alternative manufacturing location to capitalise on various vital elements such as competitive labour cost, attractive investment incentives and, of course, manufacturing activities which require high-labour intensive [processes],” he said.

“Simply put, manufacturing activities can be produced at a lower cost in Sanco SEZ, while essential employees, executives and suppliers can commute between the two countries easily for various business activities.”

First established in 2012, Sanco SEZ has attracted four industrial tenants, Samchai Steel, NHK Spring, SC Wado and Toyota Tsusho. Samchai Steel is a Thai steel fabricator specialised in steel piping. The other three are Japanese-owned companies with production lines geared to support Thailand’s $50-billion automotive industry, the largest in Southeast Asia.

According to Sambath, the emerging automotive cluster benefits its individual manufacturers while elevating the technical skills of Cambodia’s industrial workforce to facilitate the country’s diversification beyond low-end manufacturing.

“We believe automotive manufacturing clusters create great synergies for the manufacturing industry as well as improve the knowledge base of our labour forces,” he said.

At the heart of this cluster is Toyota Tsusho, the distribution arm of Japanese auto giant Toyota, whose $3-million “Techno Park” anchors Sanco SEZ and has set a hook to lure dozens of more tenants. The model, already successfully deployed by Toyota in India, Thailand and China, provides space and services for Japanese-affiliated auto parts manufacturers to set up operations.

“The Techno Park will provide rental factories at units of 1,000 [square metres], along with employee meals and such administrative services as general affairs, accounting, finance, and human resources. This will enable customers to focus entirely on manufacturing and lower the cost of overseas market entry by alleviating initial investment and risk,” Toyota Tsusho said in a release.

The Techno Park has rented out six of its seven available units since opening last October, with space available for expansion.Among its tenants is Sumitronics Manufacturing (Cambodia) Co Ltd, a joint venture between Japanese electronics manufacturing services (EMS) Sumitomo Corp and its Thai counterpart, Alpine Technology Manufacturing (Thailand) Co Ltd. The company’s 1,000 square metre EMS factory went into operation in December, serving automotive and consumer electronics manufacturers in Thailand.

Noriya Mifune, managing director of Sumitronics Cambodia, said the factory will initially produce electrical capacitors and resistors, and assemble wire harness modules for its clients.

“Cambodia has sufficient young labour compared to Thailand,” Mifune said on the decision to open a factory here. “Also, Poipet is a good location to work with and support our Thailand group factory geographically.”

Logistics has taken on a crucial role as manufacturers develop increasingly complex supply chains that link factories spread across hundreds of kilometres. The Japanese government and development agencies have been pouring funds into improving the road and bridge network that connects Thailand’s industrial heartland to the giant container port at Cai Mep, near Ho Chi Minh City, allowing raw materials to be shipped in and delivered, and exports to be quickly delivered to global markets.

According to Sambath, a rail link between Thailand and Poipet due to open this year would significantly boost the supply chain, reducing transport costs while improving the speed, wait times and quality of goods movements. Its operation could also provide the cost and load efficiencies necessary for a heavier manufacturing industry to develop in Poipet.

“The connectivity of railroad is extremely essential for logistical functions as it allows both sides to maximise transportation loads in terms of raw materials, semi-finished goods and finished goods, and at a lower cost than trucking,” he said.

“[This is] especially [important] for the steel or heavy manufacturing industry, where raw materials and finished goods are extremely heavy with high volumes but low value.”

Source: PhnomPenhPost

Thailand promoted as the “World’s Jewelry Hub”

Mr. Apisak Tantivorawong, Minister of Finance, revealed that the gems and jewelry industry is one industry with strong potential in Thailand as it is still an emerging sector but commands a high marke

The industry also brings about significant added value from upstream to downstream processes and provides employment for more than 900,000 people. The Ministry of Finance sees a good opportunity to develop Thailand as the World’s Jewelry Hub and has introduced a series of measures to facilitate cooperation with various related ministries, including the Ministries of Industry, Commerce, Labour and Tourism and Sports. These measures are:

1. Tax incentives

  • Exemption of import duties on raw materials including unprocessed pearls, diamonds and gold as well certain semi-finished and finished goods.
  • Exemption of value-added tax on raw materials and semi-finished goods.
  • Exemption of personal income tax for sales of raw materials.

2. Measures to boost competitiveness

  • Business operators can double offset costs of salaries and wages for skilled workers.
  • Raise the standard of goods to achieve acceptance in the global market by hallmarking and by organizing an international jewelry design contest (Commerce Ministry, the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (Public Organization) and the Department of Industrial Promotion will draw up measures specifying product standards).
  • Enhancement of labour skills in order to develop and transfer know-how concerning production processes and technology from large-scale operators and foreign experts to small producers. Establishment of specialized institutes to promote and develop craftsmen and skilled workers for preservation as a part of Thai heritage (Ministry of Commerce, the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (Public Organization), the Department of Industrial Promotion and the Department of Skill Development).
  • Extension of low-interest loans by the Savings Bank for improvement of machinery and to increase productivity for SMEs. Business operators can apply for loans until October 31, 2017 or until the specified total loan amount is fully allocated, whichever comes first.

3. Marketing support

  • Organize information sources on tourism at key gems and jewelry trading outlets and exhibitions in the Thailand Grand Sale, as well as promote quality gems and jewelry products to tourists via various media channels, including advertisements and promotions on airlines, as a means to increase international exposure of Thai gems and jewelry and promote sales (Ministry of Tourism and Sports).

The Minister of Finance concluded that: “Being a hub for the production and trade in gems and jewelry will help facilitate an increase in trade in this sector in Thailand. Cooperation among various key agencies will help drive Thailand’s gems and jewelry products to be “product champions” that are accepted and renowned in the world market while tourists can be encouraged to come to Thailand to buy locally produced gems and jewelry. This will also benefit related businesses, such as hotels, shops, restaurants and more. This in turn will give a boost to the Thai economy and stimulate employment throughout the industry chain.

Source: TheNation