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Indian Jewelry Strike Ends

Jewelers returned to work after three weeks of protests against a government decision to increase import taxes on gold and impose an excise duty on jewelry.

NEW DELHI — Indian jewelers, including retailers and manufacturers, returned to work Monday after three weeks of protests against a government decision to increase import taxes on gold and impose an excise duty on jewelry.

 

The return to work followed a meeting last week with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in which he told jewelry associations in New Delhi that he would look into the issue.

“We and all our associated members have decided to call off the strike until May 11 and expect some favorable announcement by the finance minister in parliament by then,” said Bachhraj Bamalwa, chairman of the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation.

The industry is protesting a 1 percent excise duty and a 2 percent increase in import duty on gold to bring it to 4 percent, which was unveiled on March 17 as a part of the governmental budget for 2012–13. There is also an addition of excise duty on unbranded jewelry except silver.

According to industry analysts, the strike has cost the sector more than $2.5 billion.

The reopening of the markets has put pressure on manufacturers to make up for lost time, as they had stopped work during the strike.

India is the world’s largest importer of gold and the jewelry industry here is estimated to be worth $200 billion a year, most of it in unbranded gold jewelry.