Trade associations end war of words

PHOTO: Trade associations end war of words

TWO major associations whose members deal in the gold and jewellery business have agreed to end a war of words that has gone on for more than two months.

The Singapore Jewellers Association (SJA) has accepted an apology from the Singapore Pawnbrokers' Association (SPA) for comments made to the media in April.

The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) revealed this yesterday in a statement.

According to the release, SJA president Ho Nai Chuen accepted an apology from his SPA counterpart Ivan Ho earlier this month during a lunch organised by the SCCCI.

SPA's president apologised over "misleading statements previously made to the media on the issue of gold prices as well as comparisons in pricing between brand new jewellery and second-hand jewellery sold at pawnshops", added the statement.

In April, The Straits Times reported that plunging gold prices increased sales, especially for goldsmiths and jewellery shops in Little India.

The report also quoted a pawnshop executive director saying that business had picked up for her firm as well.

She added that gold items sold at pawnshops were at least 20 per cent cheaper than brand new ones at jewellery stores. She said this was because, among other reasons, the price of each gram of gold was lower at pawnshops.

Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao then reported that SPA's Mr Ho had made similar remarks to print and television media that month, attributing the price difference to the recommended prices set by the SJA, which represents some 360 jewellers here.

But SJA's president later said his association had stopped the practice of setting recommended prices for its members since 2010. He added that the SPA, which represents about 100 pawnshops, should not be comparing prices of second-hand goods at pawnshops to brand new pieces sold at jewellery stores.

The dispute dragged into May despite a month of negotiations between the two associations, during which the SJA rejected an e-mail apology from SPA, calling it insincere, reported Lianhe Zaobao.

According to reports, SJA's Mr Ho said the SPA should apologise unreservedly, instead of placing part of the blame on the media. The SPA president had said that his comments were taken out of context.

That was when the SCCCI said it would mediate.

"We are very pleased to have played a small part in helping our trade association members to resolve their conflict and set all misunderstandings aside," said SCCCI president Thomas Chua yesterday.

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