Rapaport Magazine


By Marc Goldstein
Steps to Strengthening Global Position

In recent weeks, Antwerp has taken a few more steps toward the goal of strengthening its position in the global trade. One example is the Antwerp Diamond Experience, a new initiative by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), which targets the biggest and most promising diamond markets. The AWDC invited a delegation of leading jewelers and diamond traders from Kuwait to meet with Antwerp-based diamantaires through a series of networking events held over three days. Philippe Barsamian of Barsamian Diamonds was optimistic. “Such moves are very important for Antwerp. But, as they say, the proof is in the pudding. Nevertheless, we’re looking forward to other sessions with U.S., Chinese or Japanese buyers,” he said.
   “On the ground” visits from the U.S., China, Bahrain and Turkey are already planned for 2016, as a means to further build international one-to-one relationships. Ari Epstein, AWDC chief executive officer (CEO), stressed that one of the major merits of this endeavor was to help establish personal relationships, which is a key feature in building trust.

Mixed Relations
   In its press release, the AWDC quoted the positive reaction of one Kuwaiti participant, Faisal Ali of Zen Diamonds, a Turkish company with 57 stores around the world. He said “Kuwaiti people want to know the diamonds are from Belgium and that they are natural. They advertise this in their shop window, ‘Belgian diamonds.’”
   While most participants saluted the move, many in Antwerp questioned beginning these visits with Kuwait. In particular, they were not satisfied with the quality of the visitors. The results of the event in some way brought to mind the problems encountered by the Antwerp Diamond Trade Fair in its early days. Candidate selection is undoubtedly a delicate issue that can only be fine-tuned in the longer term, based on the experience gained and the learning curve. Ketan Shah of Kediam BVBA added, “I am convinced that these types of important events taking place here in Antwerp are crucial not only for the diamond business, but also for the participating companies. Being the leading center, Antwerp offers everything you could wish for in a diamond and we have always been very accessible.”

Brazilians Study in Antwerp
   Fourteen officials from the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy took a two-week rough diamond training course provided by the Antwerp diamond industry. According to the AWDC release, “The objective of the course was to ensure that Brazil is able to apply the strict requirements of the Kimberley Process (KP) properly.” Even if Brazil only ranks eighteenth among diamond producing countries, it’s expected that, once the Lipari Mine gets up to speed, its entire production —approximately 225,000 carats per year, which is about four times more than the country’s current total output — will be marketed through Antwerp. Epstein explained, “Currently the delivery time for a KP certificate in Brazil is 90 days. Hopefully, our input will help reduce this delay to three days, like it is in all other KP centers.”
   Barsamian stressed, “Be it 1,000 carats or 1 million carats, what’s important is that more rough will be coming to Antwerp, reinforcing further our critical mass.” Freddy Inzlicht, president of Diamond Kring, added, “More rough in Antwerp is always good news, and we welcome, congratulate and support anyone who brings rough diamonds to Antwerp.”
   Undoubtedly, the more producers in the hub, the more opportunities there will be, not only for the smaller and medium-sized companies, but for the entire diamond community. Furthermore, over the past couple of years, Antwerp has been welcoming new producers, which tends to confirm that in spite of some weaknesses that any diamond center has, and the increased paperwork generated by the implementation of all the legal parameters, confidence in the city’s ability to meet the strictest business and ethics guidelines is on the rise.
   One thing is certain though, if Antwerp is to remain the world’s leading rough diamond hub, it must achieve critical mass in two major areas: rough and quality buyers. “This is what we all here relentlessly work to achieve together — a healthy, transparent, compliant, profitable and sustainable future for the Antwerp diamond sector,” concluded Inzlicht.

Modi Visits Antwerp
   At the end of March, Prime Minister Modi of India visited Belgium and during his short stay met with representatives of the diamond business and helped to resolve an issue of concern. According to AWDC, Modi addressed the long delay in receiving Reserve Bank of India permission for clean credit when these are longer than 180 days. Clean credit refers to loans made by foreign suppliers to their Indian clients when the latter import diamonds without formal guarantees supplied by an Indian financial institution. Modi’s decision makes the transaction process swifter and easier.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - May 2016. To subscribe click here.

Comment Comment Email Email Print Print Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Share Share