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US Sanctions on Russia: Diamond Impact Unclear

Aug 1, 2017 11:01 AM   By Joshua Freedman
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US President Donald Trump has said he intends to sign off on sanctions against Russia, but the diamond trade is still in the dark over how the move could affect the industry.

The Belgian market bought $2.1 billion of goods from Alrosa last year, accounting for about 45% of the Russian miner’s revenues, according to financial statements the company released in April. However, it remains unclear whether the sanctions bill, which passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate last week, will force Belgian buyers to look elsewhere.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with the sanctions yet — who and what it’s going to affect and what the European response is going to be,” a source in Antwerp told Rapaport News on Tuesday. “The relationship between Antwerp and Alrosa is as strong as ever. At this point, we don’t foresee that changing.”

The bill, which Trump has approved but not yet signed, would prevent the US president from easing or revoking sanctions without consultation, Bloomberg reported. It puts restrictions on lending to certain Russian banks, such as Sberbank and VTB Group, and gives the Treasury the power to impose sanctions on Russian state-owned mining companies, of which Alrosa is one.

Alrosa CEO Sergey Ivanov said last week he was hopeful the company would not face sanctions, and that “common sense will prevail.” Any sanctions on Alrosa would have serious consequences for the global diamond industry, he warned.

German economy minister Brigitte Zypries, meanwhile, has called for countermeasures against the US, claiming the country’s actions are against international law.

“The Americans cannot punish German companies because they have business interests in another country,” German media quoted her Monday as saying in an interview with Funke-Mediengruppe.

The US State Department and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) were not immediately available for comment.
Tags: Alrosa, Donald Trump, Joshua Freedman, Rapaport News, Russia, sanctions, US
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