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Thailand’s gem industry may move to Cambodia

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Cambodia could overtake Thailand’s gem export market to the United States within five years, officials said yesterday.

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Thailand’s growing economic status could soon disqualify it for tax exemption when exporting gems to the US market, but Cambodia’s standing as a Least Developed Country would allow it to continue trading tax free.

“US officials have told me it will likely happen within the next five years,” said Cham Prasidh, senior minister at the Ministry of Commerce, referring to Thailand’s gem trade being taxed.

He said that the move would likely attract Thai traders to move their businesses to Cambodia.

“I believe that some Thai traders may run to Cambodia to produce gems and jewellery, and then export from here because they would lose some customers if they were forced to increase their prices. They will have to come to Cambodia.”

Cham Prasidh added that the move would likely help Cambodian gem traders increase their own profits, as businessmen and Cambodian gem traders could form partnerships with Thais who already had business in the States.

Jiranun Wongmonkol, the ministry counselor at the Office of Commercial Affairs at the Royal Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, confirmed that Thailand would lose its tax-exemption status when selling gems, but did not know exactly when the measure would be implemented.

She agreed that Thai traders would likely relocate business to Cambodia.

The Kingdom’s gem business also received a boost yesterday when Intertek, a London-based company providing gem-authentication services, opened a new laboratory in Phnom Penh.

Intertek’s director in Cambodia Khuth Sothy said the new laboratory would increase the confidence of potential buyers and investors, especially foreign tourists coming to buy gems in Cambodia.

“The lab and the standards it aims to ensure would “contribute to protecting tourists’ interests and will help them avoid fraudulent business made by dishonest traders”, Khuth Sothy said.

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