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Dubai gloom robs city of glitter
- Hand-made jewellery exports take a hit

A Calcutta business that had managed to glitter through the global slowdown is in danger of being robbed of its sheen by Dubai’s debt-induced gloom.

“Around 90 per cent of jewellery exports from Calcutta are to Dubai. Hand-made jewellery from Calcutta has always sold well in the emirates but there has been a drastic drop in demand, with exports to Dubai down 25 per cent over the past three-four months,” Pankaj Parekh, the chairman (eastern region) of the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, told Metro.

City-based jewellery exporters managed to stay afloat on the Dubai plank even as the downturn sunk many of their Mumbai counterparts who were banking on machine-made exports to the US and Europe. “We deal in hand-made jewellery and are more dependent on Dubai for our business,” said Parekh.

But now the city’s trade is in troubled waters. “If Dubai catches a cold, the business in Calcutta sneezes, so now that Dubai is haemorrhaging, we could slip into a coma,” fears a jeweller whose exports to Dubai have dipped by 50 per cent.

The slump in exports to Dubai began when the price of gold hit a record high in September and kept rising. “From $980 per ounce in September, the price of gold has soared to almost $1,200 an ounce (on Tuesday). The economic crisis in Dubai has now added fuel to the fire,” said Parekh. But the gold price curve has also ensured that the “visible deficit” in terms of revenue is still only five per cent.

Ketan Doshi of Modern Impex, who has been exporting hand-made, diamond-studded and meenakari jewellery to Dubai for two decades, blames a “bad tourism season” for the slump. “The buying season in Dubai starts in the run-up to Id-ul-Fitr but consumption has been poor this time. I was told there has been a 50 per cent decline in the number of visitors,” he said.

Dubai is also important to jewellery exporters from Calcutta because it functions as a re-export market. “Buyers from West Asia, Turkey, north Africa and the UK and the US flock to Dubai for jewellery. Dealers there buy from us and sell to these people. So when overseas demand dips, Dubai suffers and so do we,” said B.K. Nundee, the deputy managing director (commercial) of PC Chandra (Exports), who termed the “rapid drop in demand” as a real “cause for concern”.

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