The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), the nodal agency appointed by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry to organise state outreach programs for the gem & jewellery industry on the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), held the first such outreach program in Surat on 5th May, 2022.
The objective of the program was to sensitise the stakeholders and create awareness amongst them about the tremendous opportunities that have been created by the conclusion of these historic trade agreements with UAE and Australia.
Surat, being the world leader in diamond manufacturing since decades and now emerging as the hub of Diamond Studded jewellery and Lab Grown Diamond growing and manufacturing, has a vital role to play in the overall export growth of the country. Surat’s gem & jewellery industry will be one of the major beneficiaries of India-UAE CEPA and India-Australia ECTA.
The event was graced by Chief Guest Shri Parshottam Rupala, Hon’ble Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandary and Dairying, Govt. of India along with honoured guests Smt. Darshana Jardosh, Hon’ble Mister of State for Railways & Textiles, Govt. of India; Shri Vipul Bansal, Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce, Govt. of India; and Dr. Srikar Reddy, Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce, Govt. of India. Also in attendance were Shri Dinesh Navadiya, Regional Chairman, Gujarat, GJEPC and Shri Sabyasachi Ray, Executive Director, GJEPC.
Chief guest Shri Parshottam Rupala, Hon’ble Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Govt. of India said, “With the signing of the India-UAE CEPA and the India-Australia ECTA, our vision is to see bilateral economic and commercial exchanges with UAE and Australia growing exponentially in the years to come. A Vision that aims to create mutually enriching, futuristic, advanced economies at the horizon of human advancement. The Govt. has delivered on its promise of facilitating and creating a business-friendly ecosystem, it is now the stakeholders turn to step up and put this vision into action.”
Shri Rupala emphasised that these agreements came into place when rest of the world was struggling with their internal challenges. “This shows the increased importance of India as the trade destination for the rest of the world. We may witness many more such FTAs with other countries in the coming future.” He also appreciated the Commerce Ministry’s pro-active measures to expedite these agreements. Shri Rupala observed that this is perhaps the first time in the history of Surat that Government officials at the level of Joint Secretary were interacting directly with the trade and addressing their issues.
Smt. Darshana Jardosh, Hon’ble Mister of State for Railways & Textiles, Govt. of India, commented, “The trade Agreements with the UAE and Australia will bring in a new era of bilateral economic relations with our partner countries. The depth and range of market access agreed upon with both the UAE and Australia is unprecedented. CEPA and ECTA would facilitate to enhance the bilateral trade and investment flows, assist in our post-COVID economic recovery and drive future economic growth.”
Smt Jardosh mentioned that the CEPA will largely benefit the trade of Rajkot, which deals mostly in plain gold. She encouraged Rajkot-based manufacturers to start exporting to UAE directly. She appreciated the fact that the audience got interactive with the Joint Secretary and asked valid questions related to these trade agreements, which shows that the Surat trade is ready and geared up to avail their benefits. She added, “I estimate that the export with these two countries, Australia and UAE, will increase at least by 25% in current financial year itself.”
Shri Vipul Bansal, Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce, Govt. of India said, “India-UAE CEPA was made operational on 1st May by flagging off the first three consignments of Jewellery from New Delhi to Dubai which would be getting zero duty market access. We are currently negotiating with the UK, EU, Canada, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Israel, and Southern African Customs Union (SAU) for entering to trade agreements. We hope to conclude FTAs with some of these countries by end of this year. The Govt. is committed to facilitate ease of doing business and give a competitive edge when catering to global markets.”
Dr. Srikar Reddy, Joint Secretary, Foreign Trade (WANA), Department of Commerce, Govt. of India said, “I’m happy to be in the state of Gujarat, which contributes close to 25% of exports. Both India and UAE have exchanged their first consignments under the new trade agreement. UAE and Australia are very important export destinations and trading partners. Strategically too Australia’s an important part of the Quad, which includes India, Australia, Japan and the US for the Indo-Pacific region. Secondly, there is another more recent Quad 2, which consists of India, US, Israel and UAE. Our PM Narendra Modi has excellent relations with the leadership of these nations. So these two important partner countries, UAE and Australia, were chosen for FTAs not only from an economic point of view, but from a strategic point of view as well. These two countries also have a significant Indian population—one third of UAE’s population are Indians, and similarly we have 7 lakh Indians residing in Australia. The beauty of these trade agreements is that not only are we getting increased market access for our products, but whatever duty concessions we have given on raw materials like gold, aluminium, copper and petrochemicals are benefitting our domestic industry to become more competitive and will create more jobs.”
Colin Shah, Chairman, GJEPC said, “Today we are seeing optimism across the gem and jewellery sector. The Council offered pro-industry suggestions for the India-UAE CEPA and India-Australia ECTA with the aim of unlocking India’s untapped potential. As these agreements come into force, we expect to see a major jump in exports in the coming years. It could create thousands of jobs in every segment of the pipeline as we will have to build our capacity to cater to this new opportunity. I understand that the Government is negotiating FTAs with Canada, UK and Israel which would be concluded hopefully by the end of this year. The agreements also present a big opportunity for domestic players who have not yet catered to foreign markets to start expanding their business. Through these FTAs, the Govt. has kept its promise of facilitating and creating a business-friendly ecosystem. I’m sure that the many pro-active policy measures taken by the Govt. will boost India’s gem & jewellery exports from $40 billion dollars to $75 billion dollars in the next five years. We thank the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji for his bold and visionary leadership. And we’re grateful to Hon’ble Minister of Commerce & Industry, Shri Piyush Goyal, for being a guide, mentor and a strong support to our industry.”
Shri Dinesh Navadiya, Regional Chairman, Gujarat, GJEPC said, “The gem and jewellery industry will be the most benefitted by India-UAE CEPA and India-Australia ECTA. This will help to grow India’s gem and jewellery exports to UAE to the tune of USD 10 billion annually and we expect to double our exports to Australia from the current export of USD 315 million.