Atul Jogani Wishes India’s Jewellery to be Colourful…

atul_joganiMr. Atul Jogani, a dynamic and multi-façade business tycoon based in Bangkok, Thailand has played a pivotal role in developing Thailand’s gem & jewellery as well as coloured stone industry. He is Vice President of the Thai Gem & Jewellery Traders’ Association (TGJTA) and Indian-Thai Diamond & Colorstone Association. Besides, he is Chairman of the Jogani Group of Companies.

During his recent business-visit to Mumbai, G2J earned a personal meeting slot with the NRI businessman Mr. Jogani who talked about the present situation in Thailand and other industry issues. Here are the excerpts:

How has the present political situation affected Thailand’s domestic gem & jewellery industry?

Atul Jogani: Let me stress it here that the political situation in Thailand is as normal as ever before. The governmental changes have not at all affected Thailand’s trade or industrial activities. In fact our recently concluded Bangkok Gems & Jewellery Fair received more response than we had expected. We were skeptical about the targeted success of the show but despite the slow-down in economies of China and the US, the show was ended with more success than we had expected.

The military government maintains good communication with the trade and industry leaders and tries to solve their problems by organizing regular meetings them.

Many foreign investors including Indians are eager to know how economic reforms are implemented in Thailand. Is it safe to invest there?

Atul Jogani: This is a misconception prevailing among the global investors. The military government in Thailand is totally pro-business and eager to implement economic reforms also. Known as an Asian “Tiger Cub,” the Thai economy is export-oriented and it openly welcomes foreign investments. It is absolutely safe to make investment here.

Slowdown in economy of countries like China and the US has badly affected India’s jewellery exports. What is the status of Thailand’s jewellery exports?

Atul Jogani: Yes, the sluggishness in the global economy has affected Thailand’s exports to a small extent. But this is not the case only with Thailand; most of the other global countries have been passing through the same plight. So we are trying to sustain and we will get success.

Recently, the US Federal Bank did not increase the interest rates, do you think is it a positive step for all countries?

Atu Jogani: Definitely it is a positive and welcome step taken by the US Fed because now the money will not go back to the US from the emerging markets so ultimately it would help the emerging countries. This will also add to the liquidity of consumers which would increase their purchasing power and encourage them for buying jewellery and diamonds.

India has suspended jewellery imports from Thailand to protect its domestic jewellery industry. Do you advocate withdrawing of the suspension under proposed renewal of FTA between the two countries? Why?

Atul Jogani1Atul Jogani: The Thai government is in talks with its Indian counterpart to resume the presently suspended Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in gold jewellery. In fact we are keen to export coloured gemstone studded jewellery to India. But as of now the Indian government has not taken any decision on the issue.

I don’t understand how the jewellery imports from Thailand under FTA can damage India’s domestic jewellery industry which has a size of almost 25 billion dollars. Our jewellery export to India is worth 174 million dollars only. I don’t know why Indian businessmen are so scared of this. If you have strength, should this small amount of import from Thailand affect your business? No, I think this is just like a drop of water in the ocean!

When we talk about resuming the FTA, it should not be only about jewellery industry. There are many other industries covered under this agreement where some industries may suffer in Thailand and some in India. We are here to compete, provide the best of our products and not to harm anyone’s interest.

Besides, Indian consumers now need to change their preferences. When Indian costumes, culture, food and festivals are colourful, why is India’s jewellery white? Thailand’s gemstone and jewellery industry has grown up in recent years. Exporting Thai gemstones to India has huge potential. Besides, the coloured gemstones provide a cheaper option in comparison with natural diamonds.

Global diamond industry has been passing through difficult phase these days, what are your suggestions to bring the industry back on track?

Atul Jogani: To bring the global diamond industry back on the track is not a single person’s responsibility. All stakeholders of the industry are like one family, they all should take collective initiatives to revitalize entire supply chain. So all the global trade associations, traders, exporters-importers, miners, manufacturers should come together on a common platform and promulgate some short and long term measures to bring the industry back on the track.

How serious is the problem of mixing undisclosed synthetic diamonds with natural ones in Thailand?

Atul Jogani: No, we are not manufacturing diamonds but we import polished diamonds from India. So we are not facing such problems in Thailand.

Interview by Suresh Chotai