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Gem industry should aim at USD 1 Bn annual export revenue – President

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Today Sri Lanka has over USD 4 billion foreign reserves but they are mostly made up of handouts from Asian Development Bank, IMF and World Bank and the country should try to equal this amount via exports.

This was opined by President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday while inaugurating the first ever Gem Sri Lankan exhibition organized by Chinafort Gem and Jewellery Traders Association (CGJTA), the biggest post COVID trade event to be held out of Colombo at Cinnamon Bentota Beach. The event which is to attract over 12,000 visitors will conclude on Saturday.

The President said that soon after the Aragalaya and the economic crisis that followed the government received several aid and credit lines. He said that the economy is now recovering from a minus growth and predicted that the country would end 2024 with a growth of around 2% which should increase to 5% in 2025. “Thereafter we should look at around 7% growth.”

However, this is not the way forward. What we want is more exports and the gem industry too should try to bring in around USD 1 billion from exports.”

He was highly appreciative of Gem Sri Lanka which drew over 1,500 foreign visitors and said that the event was a good launch pad to increase gem exports. The President said that he was also pleased to see a large number of Chinese buyers and said that China’s gem market is only opening now and the Sri Lankan gem industry should focus on that area as well.

He said that the Beruwela area is a major contributor to the economy via gem exports, tourism and fisheries. Referring to a comment made by Minister of Primary Industries Chamara Sampath Dassanayake requesting a VAT and tax reduction on the industry he said that the government cannot give concessions of this nature at this point of time. “The industry must be more innovative and train youth and other industry stakeholders to bring more FOREX.”

Head of business delegation from China Ruby Liu said that today China has overtaken the USA as the largest market for colored gemstones. “The Gem Sri Lanka event will help us to source more exports from Sri Lanka to china.”

The event was also held in collaboration with international gem associations, including the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) from the United States and the Shenzhen Jewelry Industry Association (SJIS) in China and it was supported by Guild Gem Laboratories serving as the platinum sponsor. With over 2,000 members island-wide, CGJTA is the largest association for gem trade in Sri Lanka and is the custodian of the oldest and largest open-air gem market in the world, the Chinafort Beruwala Gem Market.

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