With the US recession trimming India's gems and jewellery exports, the overseas consignments of the precious items will contract this fiscal taking a toll on the skilled labour in the sector, an exporters' body has said.
While gems and jewellery exports grew by a modest 0.59 per cent to $ 15.08 billion between April and December this fiscal, the financial year may end with a negative trend, Chairman of the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) Vasant Mehta said.
"This fiscal our exports will see a negative growth in dollar terms...Though it would be in single digit," he said.
The country exported gems and jewellery worth USD 21 billion in 2007-08 and had set a modest target of $ 22 billion. But achieving even the 2007-08 figure
would be difficult this fiscal as exporters face a huge demand slump in the US.
The American consumers contributed to over one-third of India's export of the precious material.
The industry, which is largely concentrated in Gujarat, has laid off 65,000 people in the last few months. "The number (of laid off) is expected to be around 1,30,000 by March, 2008," Mehta said.
Besides the US, the Indian gems and jewellery is sold in Europe and the UAE. Exporters did not have a good Christmas season. According to industry officials, the festival sales were down by 15-25 per cent.