Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gem-rich Namibia urges Thais to invest, Bankokpost reports

(Bankokpost)-Thais are being urged to invest in Namibia in southern Africa, particularly in diamond and jewellery cutting, mining and raw material supply for Thai jewellery.
Namibia has currently opened room for foreign investment with no restrictions on foreign ownership, and about 100 new concessions for diamond mining have been granted to the private sector. The mines have yet to become operational.
"We see Thai investors can take this opportunity to look for joint ventures in establishing gem cutting and diamond cutting in Namibia to cut operating costs," said Neville M. Gertze, Ambassador of Namibia to Thailand, who met Deputy Prime Minister Mingkwan Sangsuwan yesterday.
Namibia is well known for its diamond industry. The country's economy consists primarily of mining and manufacturing, which represent 74% and 11% of the gross domestic product (GDP), respectively.
Over the past three years its government has granted 50 concessions for the private sector to operate diamond mines that could produce a total of 100,000 carats of diamond per month. De Beers, the world's leading diamond producer, is one of the companies that operates diamond mining in Namibia, producing about one million carats of diamonds per year.
Apart from diamonds, Namibia is also rich in gems and precious stones such as tourmaline, amethyst, topaz, tiger-eye quartz and red quartz, and other minerals such as gold, uranium, copper, zinc and natural gas.
Mr Mingkwan said the Commerce Ministry in the near future planned to organise business trips to Namibia in order to seek trade and business opportunities, especially related to raw materials for the Thai jewellery industry.The Thai jewellery industry now imports raw materials from Namibia, mainly through middlemen.
Two-way trade between Namibia and Thailand was worth only US$5.05 million last year, with Thai exports representing $4.20 million. Thai exports were mainly for automobiles and parts, processed seafood, rubber products, machinery and components.
Namibia exports animal products and textiles to Thailand.
Mr Mingkwan said barter trade would probably be promoted to expand trade with Namibia, as the country desperately needed agricultural products from Thailand such as rice and seafood products (Bankokpost)

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