China’s Gems & Jewellery Trade with the world
China has emerged as a major player in world jewellery trade in recent years, both in terms of exports and imports. Her exports under HS Code 71 comprising precious stones and metals, mostly through processing of imported items, went up 15.94% in 2003, climbing to US$ 3.296 billion from US$ 2.843 billion in 2002. Similarly, her imports went up 38.40% in 2003, rising to US$ 1.846 billion from US$ 1.334 billion in 2002.
Within the gems and jewellery segment, China enjoyed a net balance of trade in 2003 to the tune of nearly US$ 1.45 billion. Of this China’s exports were worth US$ 3.29 billion and imports US$ 1.85 billion. China’s main items of export are gold and diamond jewellery, non-industrial diamond and silver jewellery, imitation jewellery and pearls etc. China mainly imports are nonindustrial unworked diamond, platinum powder, (the two of them together constituting over 80% of China’s total imports) silver, other precious and semi-precious stones, precious metal jewellery etc. In terms of proportionate value of items, China’s imports seem more diversified than her exports. However, a substantial part of this is used as raw material and finished diamond jewellery and platinum products are used for export.
In terms of export trade in jewellery products (jewellery is the twenty-fifth largest item of China’s exports), China has been a major exporter of jewellery with precious metals (HS Code 7113), where, in 2003, China exported a total of US$ 1.38 billion in value terms, accounting for over 40% of the country’s total export in gems and jewellery. Gold- and diamond-mounted jewellery (HS Code 71131911) constituted almost half of China’s exports within that category, while gold jewellery and parts (HS Code 71131919) accounted for another two-fifths.
Diamond is another area where China’s exports have grown steadily, and at US$ 912 million in the whole of 2003, was the second largest category of the country’s exports in the gems and jewellery segment. Within diamonds, non-industrial diamonds, excluding mounted or set diamonds (HS Code 71023900) accounted for over 90% of total exports in this category. Another item that has grown markedly from US$ 164 million in 2001 to US$ 448 million in 2003, and occupies the third place among China’s gems and jewellery exports, is silver. Imitation jewellery (US$ 310 million) and pearls (US$ 66 million) were respectively placed at number four and five.
In imports, China’s trade is concentrated in diamonds, accounting for over two-thirds of the total value of import under the category of gems and jewellery. China has also started importing
substantial quantum of platinum in recent times. Value addition in both diamond and platinum are done locally.
In 2003, China imported diamond worth a total of US$ 1.2 billion, most of it non-industrial un-worked diamond. The main exporting nations were Belgium (supplying nearly half of China’s total import), South Africa, India, Israel and the US. Diamond registered a 24.5% growth in 2003. Comparatively speaking, the growth of platinum, the second largest category of Chinese import within the jewellery segment, was strikingly higher at 238.6% in 2003. China’s total platinum import volume in 2003 was US$ 260 million. Nearly three-fourths of it was in unwrought platinum powder. China also imports silver, other stones and jewellery with precious stones.
Table II. 1 gives an idea of the growth of China’s gems and jewellery exports under various 4 HS Categories. Table II. 2 gives a more detailed 8 HS Code break-up of China’s imports from the rest of the world. Table II. 3 lists out the major countries exporting gems and jewellery to China, and highlights India’s position and share vis-à-vis them.
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