The cumulative export figure for April-August, the first five months of 2018-19, was $239 million (Rs 16.3 billion), compared to $2.0082 billion (Rs 129.4 billion) in the corresponding period last year.
However, during this period, overall gems and jewellery export rose by 7.3 per cent in rupee terms to Rs 1,131 billion and nearly 1.9 per cent in dollar terms to $16.7 billion.
Indian export of silver jewellery and artefacts was a record high of a little above $4 billion in 2016-17, taking major market share from Thailand. That has since reversed — silver jewellery exporters from Thailand have made their articles more attractive with contemporary and modern designs. While Indian exporters continued to offer the same style of ornaments, failing to move in line with consumer demand.
Pramod Agrawal, chairman of GJEPC, said another reason for the sharp fall was the closure of export operations by a few major companies in Hyderabad and Surat.
“However, India can capitalise on the global demand, as it has the capability and skills to produce quality silver jewellery,” he said.
Source: Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council
Thailand’s export of silver jewellery jumped 15 per cent to nearly $1.8 billion in calendar year 2017, from the year before. Silver jewellery was nearly 44 per cent of their overall gems and jewellery export. Export in the segment also rose from Indonesia and China, pulling down India’s global share.
“India’s export of silver jewellery and artefacts has declined over the past few years. Huge promotional effort and policy support are needed,” said Rahul Mehta, managing director at Silver Emporium, a jewellery and artefacts manufacturer in this city.
India, say observers, has the skills in handmade silver jewellery, for which there is good demand abroad. What is needed is adequate exposure. Focused buyer-seller meets would be one helpful step to stoke demand from consuming nations.
“Support in terms of export-friendly policy can make a difference. There is also a good international market for mechanised jewellery, which China has entered. India can also enter this market, with the support of the government in setting up units to completely make jewellery in a mechanised way,” said Agrawal.
Silver is considered precious cargo, similar to gold and diamonds, for calculating freight cost while exporting articles and jewellery. “It would be a great relief for export if the government relaxes the norm and exempts silver from consideration as precious cargo. This would make India’s silverware export (more) competitive,” said Agrawal.
Silver jewellery manufacturers are also seeking duty drawback on goods sold to foreign buyers or refund of the goods and services tax charged on movement outside India.