Surat, widely considered as the diamond capital of the world, may lose its crown to China which is on its way to become a major manufacturer of cut and polished diamonds, warned a recent report by industry body Assocham.
The report titled ' Indian Gems and Jewellery Sector-2012'
said that,"There are grave concerns of Surat based diamond processing
units relocating to China which is constantly pushing for direct deals
with African governments thereby locking up the supply of rough diamonds
and severely denting employment scenario in Surat."
Assocham Gujarat Council chairperson Bhagyesh Soneji alleged that
China is investing in infrastructure projects in various African
countries, and is in the lookout to forge direct supply deals for rough
diamonds with African suppliers. "China is trying to establish control
over the raw material", she said.
Surat houses nearly 4,000 diamond cutting and polishing units and employs more than 600,000 people.
"The report brings in front of us a warning signal that it is time
for the government to start taking actions to ensure there is no loss of
business to the country's diamond industry", Soneji said.
She added that Assocham has urged the government to take up the issue
on an urgent basis and ensure secure, reliable and adequate long term
supply of raw materials for domestic industries through directly
engaging with producer countries via various diplomatic channels of
trade agreements and others.
India can establish a barter trade system with African countries, she felt.
Gems and jewellery currently accounts for nearly 16 per cent of
India's exports, she informed. Cut and polished diamonds accounted for
around 54.46 per cent of gems and jewellery exports in 2011-12. Major
export markets for gems and jewellery exports are the US, United Arab
Emirates, and Hong Kong.