FILIPINO exporters may consider Austria as another market for fashion jewelry.

Benjamin Chiu, market analyst of iSEARCH Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. Cebu, in a report pointed out that its imports have been consistently growing during the last five years, making Austria the fifth biggest market for costume jewelry exports among the EU27 countries.

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Imports from 2005 to 2009 are consistently growing at an average rate of 19.4 percent yearly. This is well above the EU27 average of one percent for the same period, he said.

Chiu said in 2009 alone, Austria is also the only country in the top 10 EU27 costume jewelry importers that have reported positive import growth rate of 3.9 percent.

It captured 10.7 percent of the total EU27 costume jewelry imports last year, following Italy and France representing 14.3 percent and 17.2 percent, respectively.

Germany and the United Kingdom have shares of around 19 percent each. The rest of the countries including Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal and Ireland cover not more than six percent each of the total imports.

Chiu attributed the higher costume jewelry imports of Austria to the strong influence of fashion trends in clothing and matching accessories.

Necklaces, bangles and earrings with glittering or colorful beads have been popular until the present time partly because Austrians are becoming more conscious about their appearance, especially for the increasing numbers of working women, he said.

Citing Trademap figures, Chiu said the leading supplier of costume jewelry to Austria in 2009 was Thailand, covering around 35 percent of total imports, followed by China with about 25 percent share.

The Philippines only ranked 25th slightly above its competitors, such as Indonesia (30th) and Vietnam (32nd) that are also suppliers of costume jewelry to Austria.

Austria's costume jewelry imports from the Philippines in 2009 were valued at $329,000, more than double compared with the imports from Indonesia and Vietnam amounting to $135,000 and $122,000 for the same year.

However, Austria's import growth rate from the Philippines for the period 2005 to 2009 was characterized by a downward trend, averaging at minus 14.8 percent yearly, he said.

As its jewelry market for working women still develops, Chiu urged exporters to seize the opportunities in offering other forms of costume jewelry with charms or stones, pendants with amulets and hair accessories.

Other interesting market niches could be found in the rising number of immigrants and tourists where all sorts of costume jewelries could attract this target group, he added.

Chiu said direct selling to consumers is another good opportunity for exporters, who intend to market their products online, since the internet is well established in Austria. (Danielle Venz/Philexport)