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Tue 15 Oct 2019 02:03 PM

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Italian jewellery exports to the UAE fall as demand weakens

Jewellery exports from Italy to the UAE dropped from AED 5.26bn in 2015 to AED 3.2bn in 2018, but are showing signs of recovery, according to Italy's trade commissioner in the region

Italian jewellery exports to the UAE fall as demand weakens

Italy’s jewellery exports to the UAE have dipped by nearly 40 percent since 2014 amid weakening demand and strong competition from Asian countries, but are showing strong signs of recovery in the first half of 2019, according to Gianpaolo Bruno, Italy’s trade commissioner to the UAE, Oman and Pakistan.

Speaking to Arabian Business during a government-organised trade mission for UAE businesses in the Italian province of Frosinone in the Lazio region, Bruno revealed that Italy has recorded decreased jewellery exports over the last five years.

“We exported 1.3 billion euros (AED 5.26bn) in 2014, and now it’s about 800 million euros (AED 3.2bn),” he said. “It’s a big decrease.”

In the first half of 2019, however, Italian jewellery exports to the UAE rose 18 percent from AED 368 million euros (AED 1.5bn) to 435 million euros (AED 1.7bn). Globally, Italian jewellery exports rose 8.6 percent over the same time period.

While Bruno said that the decrease between 2014 and 2018 can partly be explained by slackening domestic demand for consumer products in the UAE that followed oil price drops in 2014, it is also largely due to increasingly stiff competition from other jewellery producers.

“There has been a rise in competitors such as Turkey, India and China, which are rivalling Italy on the price factor, while also increasing in quality,” he added. “We maintain a strong position in the high-end market, but are probably losing ground and market share in the middle to lower range of products.”

The declines in the jewellery sector – which is statistically Italy’s most important export sector to the UAE – led overall exports to fall to 5.2 billion euros (AED 21bn) in 2018, compared to approximately 6.2 billion euros ($25.11bn) in 2015.

Bruno said that Italy’s government and its businesses remain “confident that the potential is there” and hope “to give Italian companies more and more opportunities to face the market.”

However, Bruno added that many Italian companies – including many jewellery firms – are at a “disadvantage” due to their small size.

“They also face critical issues such as barriers to entry, due to the fact that they need to have an organisational structure to serve the market, and need to invest in a direct presence. You have to have a presence in the mainland or a free zone, so need to heavily invest to be in the market,” he said. “There are also cultural barriers.”

On the recent UAE trade mission to Italy, a number of Italian firms expressed an interest in gaining an entry into the market.

Among them was Spirale Dorata – ‘Golden Spiral’ – a small firm that creates handmade jewellery from a workshop in the town of Sora on the banks of the river Liri.

According to co-owner and sales manager Antonella Di Pede, the firm has already begun work on a range of products made specifically for the Dubai market in the hopes that it will soon begin exporting there.

“We have made a customised collection only for Dubai customers, primarily made of wood, marble and iron. We also have premium products made of precious pearls,” she said.

“We know Dubai loves pearls, and we hope to manage to enter the market,” she added. “But right now, we don’t know how to kick off.”