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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gem industry looks to better practices as exhibition opens

Gem industry looks to better practices as exhibition opens

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Industry insiders say that better management is required to make the most of the Kingdom’s precious stones on first day of jewellery exhibition in the capital

Photo by: SOVANN PHILONG

Attendants at the 2009 Gems and Jewellery Exhibition look at rings Thursday at the event held at the Hotel InterContinental.

AS Cambodia seeks to export natural gems and jewellery to international markets, vendors warn that the nation will not be able to profit from the industry if it remains poorly managed on the ground, trade officials told the Post at the 2009 Gems and Jewellery Exhibition in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

The exhibition, co-organised by the Ministry of Commerce's Promotions Department and Chheng Hak Stone Diamond Shop, ends Saturday and has 30 gem stalls.

"We are willing to produce and export our gem products for an international market," Mao Thora, secretary of state at the Commerce Ministry said. "We are thinking about how to promote and trade with foreign countries with our gems and jewellry products."

However Kuy Makrinda, director of Angkor Thom Thmei Co, said without better resource management on the ground, profits produced from the gem trade will disappear into government officials' own wallets.

"Authorities in the provinces are not well-monitored; I have seen people digging here and there in a way that looks unprofessional," he said, adding that he was concerned about management, particularly in Pailin and Ratanakkiri province, where there were many informal mines and excavating with insufficient controls.

"Gems are a special product of Cambodia, even our temples are decorated with gems and jewellery accessories. I think once we begin to control their movement properly, national income will increase," he said.

Kuy Makrinda called on authorities to manage natural resources that belong to the nation. "I understand that if all natural resources are properly managed, it will change the lives of people and reduce poverty via tax collection, instead of going into government officials' pockets," he said.

Near Sodany, owner of Sok Nay Jewellery Shop, said she wanted the world to recognise Cambodia was home to unique and valuable gem products, and agreed that better on-the-ground management would help reach this goal.

"We want to see Cambodian gems become a big player in the gem trade ... and I hope to create a jewellry trade association soon," he said.

Cambodia's main gem-producing provinces are Pailin, Ratanakkiri, Takeo and Kampong Thom. 

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