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Bangkok Fair 2009
Bangkok Fair 2009
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Bangkok does well, considering…

The Bangkok Fair was held during a Thai "state of emergency". COLEBY NICHOLSON was there to see how it was business as usual.

No one opens jewellery trade fairs as well as the Thais.

While "ceremonial" openings are far more prevalent at Asian shows, with a range of dignitaries and politicians usually in attendance, it is the Bangkok Gem and Jewelry Fair that exceeds all other fairs.

The Bangkok fair usually opens with a dance performance and fashion parade and then a dazzling light show, but perhaps because of the underlying political situation, the recent September edition was exceptional.

A media release from the organiser said it best: "The five day fair opened with an air of cautious optimism that the Thai jewel industry should be able to ride out the local political development".

The Thai political issues and their corresponding media coverage certainly had an impact on the event, which was hit by a wave of late cancellations that left a small amount of exhibition space vacant.

The government had declared a state of emergency in September, just nine days before the fair, Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association (TGJTA) president Vichai Assarasakorn noting that he had quite a few sleepless nights hoping the event would not be affected: "We received a lot of calls and faxes from exhibitors and visitors asking about the situation and asking whether they should still come or not."

After some initial investigation and some assurances, TGJTA felt confident to advise to people that, "the situation would be safe," but spreading this message to as many as possible was another problem.

Assarasakorn added, half jokingly, that his job had been tougher ever since the 2006 September fair when the Royal Thai Army staged a coup d'état against the elected government of caretaker prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

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All in all, he clarified, the fair "held" its numbers and, despite the word from the stands that visitors had definitely been affected, conditions were ideal for purchasing as the accessibility to the larger and more popular stands and exhibits improved.

The Thai Department of Export promotion released figures showing that there was a 30 per cent increase in export value in the first six months of the year to $US3.66 billion. This places the jewellery industry as the country's fourth largest export; however, much of that increase is explained by the increase in raw materials, mainly gold. Figures showed all countries had increased their trade with Thailand with Australia now in second, ahead of the US and behind Hong Kong.

Given that the country was in a "state of emergency", it was amazing to note the normality of the fair - the political upheaval nowhere near distracting enough to quell the hectic business scene of Bangkok. As far as future plans go for the Thai industry, Assarasakorn said that they are still concentrating on the four emerging markets of China, India, Middle East and Russia. The first three are obvious but Russia is an important market because of that population's love of coloured stones.

Coleby Nicholson attended the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair courtesy of the organiser. The next fair will be from 25 February 1 March, 2009.

Coleby Nicholson

Former Publisher • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson launched Jeweller in 1996 and was also publisher and managing editor from 2006 to 2019. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than 20 years and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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