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Global Weakness Hits Antwerp Diamond Trade

Belgium’s polished diamond trade slumped last year due to an economic slowdown in India and China, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) reported. Polished exports slid 10 percent to $11.8 billion, while imports fell by the same margin to $11.39 billion, the AWDC said. Net polished exports, representing exports minus imports, climbed 2.7 percent to $410.8 million. By volume, polished exports dropped 9 percent to 5.4 million carats, with the average price slipping 1 percent to $2,175 per carat. Polished exports to Hong Kong dived 11.5 percent amid weaker consumer sentiment in Greater China. “India’s demonetization in early November had an immediate impact on trade with India, but slow economic growth in the BRIC countries is at the heart of this issue,” the AWDC said, referring to Brazil, Russia, India and China. The drop was consistent with the overall global downward trend in the polished sector, the organization argued. While emerging markets were a major reason for the decline, polished exports to the U.S., Belgium’s largest polished trade partner, slumped 11 percent. Shipments to Israel fell 2.6 percent and orders from the United Arab Emirates dropped 8 percent. Rough Better Belgium’s rough trade performed better than its polished counterpart, reflecting a buoyant market which recovered from a slump in 2015. Rough imports grew 8.6 percent to $12.09 billion last year, while exports jumped 11 percent to $12.73 billion, AWDC data showed. Net rough imports, representing imports minus exports, were negative $638.7 million versus negative $371.9 million the previous year as a greater value of diamonds left the country than entered it. The net diamond account widened 32 percent to $1.05 billion. Rough trading is looking positive with the number of rough-diamond tenders taking place in Antwerp increasing, the body added. All sales from the recently launched Renard and Gahcho Kué mines in Canada and the Liqhobong mine in Lesotho will take place in Antwerp, bringing another 7 million carats to the Belgian market this year, explained Ari Epstein, chief executive officer of the AWDC.

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