The Antwerp World Diamond Center was outraged following the Belgian Prime Minister’s speech at the UN General Assembly in favor of banning Russian diamonds, even though their share represents 30% of production. worldwide.
Sixteen representatives of the diamond industry, including world leader De Beers, are fiercely opposed to the introduction of sanctions against Russian diamonds, according to an article in Financial Times dated September 20 which refers to a “letter” addressed to the Belgian government by diamond dealers, to which he had access.
Diamond dealers were reacting to statements made on September 19 at the residence of the Belgian consul in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo. He then urged the jewelry sector gathered on this occasion to “go the last mile” to bring about the initiative to ban Russian diamonds that the G7 plans to implement.
On September 15, a Belgian official, preferring to remain anonymous, had already announced to Reuters journalists that a ban on Russian diamonds would be put in place from January.
This is another episode in the series of efforts by Western countries to ban these Russian gems. Also according to Reuters, Russian national diamond mining company Alrosa, which accounts for 90% of Russia’s diamond mining capacity, now constitutes 35-40% of the world’s supply.
Antwerp, diamond capital of the world
The concern of industrial players in Belgium is to see Antwerp dethroned from its role as world leader in favor of India or even Dubai. Diamonds worth $220 million are traded every day in Antwerp, or $47 billion a year. The city controls 86% of the world’s rough diamond trade and 50% of the polished diamond trade. It is home to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.
For these reasons, Belgium plays a central role in discussions on the ban on Russian diamonds within the G7 (which represents 70% of the sales market) and the EU. According to the Belgian Prime Minister on September 19 in New York, “Russian diamonds now symbolize war and human rights violations.” He called for “making the system completely transparent.” (…) by January 1, 2024.”
The hunt for “blood diamonds”
Since the spring, Russian diamonds have constituted a new target for Western countries which are trying to weaken the Russian economy and reduce its ability to finance its armed forces engaged in Ukraine. The United States was the first to ban the import of Russian diamonds into its territory by a presidential decree of March 11.
On May 19, during the G7 summit in Hiroshima, the Belgian Prime Minister declared that “Russian diamonds are not (were) not forever” and that the G7 countries were going to “restrict the trade in Russian diamonds” to ” cut off Russia from its essential sources of income. However, Russian gemstones were not included in the eleventh EU sanctions package validated in June.
But on September 18, in anticipation of the twelfth package of sanctions, Poland proposed, through the Polish News Agency, to ban Russian diamonds.
The Western idea would be to set up a new traceability protocol which would rely on three control mechanisms, including the Kimberley process, an international certification system established in 2003 to stem the influx of conflict diamonds into the world. global market. According to Reuters, it would also use blockchain technology.
A bad solution?
Despite these elaborate measures, some consider this initiative to be ineffective and not without risks, like Tom Neys, spokesperson for the World Diamond Center in Antwerp. In an interview with Euronews on May 23, he affirmed that these measures would have “no impact on the Russian economy”, which would simply turn to buyers other than the G7 countries. In addition, it would “favor countries less attentive to the origin of diamonds and money laundering networks”.
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