Sixteen major diamond manufacturers have reacted with horror to Prime Minister Alexander De Croo’s proposal to the G7 to ban Russian diamonds from the market. This was written by the Financial Times and confirmed to Belga from a good source.
On Tuesday evening in New York, Prime Minister Crowe asked the jewelry sector to “take the final step” to ensure the success of the diamond initiative. To date, no sanctions have been imposed on Russia over diamonds from that country.
But the Belgian proposal raises the eyebrows of sixteen international players in this sector. According to a letter seen by the Financial Times, the sixteen accused the Antwerp diamond lobby of not being “transparent, accountable and inclusive” enough.
Belgium has long been reluctant to impose sanctions, because the global center for trading in rough and polished diamonds is located on our territory. Therefore, a mechanism was sought to track diamonds and thus prevent Russian gems from finding their way into the markets of the G7 countries (the United States, Canada, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan and the European Union).
This mechanism is almost ready and, on Tuesday, Prime Minister De Croo addressed senior jewelry industry officials at the residence of the Belgian Consul General in New York. He called on the concerned parties to complete the initiative. The Prime Minister stressed that “Russian diamonds have become a symbol of war and human rights violations.” “Making the system fully transparent requires a lot of work that we have to do together. Let’s take this final step to implement the system on January 1, 2024.”
The new tracking protocol relies on several verification mechanisms, including the Kimberley Certification – the international certification system established in 2003 to stem the flow of conflict diamonds into the global market – all of which are locked using blockchain technology. If this system succeeds, it must eliminate Russian diamonds and reduce their value on the market in favor of diamonds coming from the African continent.
According to the Financial Times, the Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC) is behind this proposal. This was confirmed to Belga by a good source from the sector. According to the Financial Times, AWDC stated that it provided “technical advice” to the Belgian government. Other governments, including the G7, are also said to have contributed to the proposal. The business newspaper quoted a Belgian government employee: “This is not an initiative of industry, but of the government.”
Antwerp as a “gatekeeper”
Meanwhile, the World Diamond Council has also prepared a similar proposal. According to the Financial Times, it is unclear what role Antwerp will play in this matter. In the Belgian proposal, a central role will be reserved for Antwerp. The city will then be used as a “gatekeeper” to identify the non-Russian source of stones arriving in G7 countries.
According to the industry source Belga spoke to, the Belgian proposal hurts everyone in the industry (players like De Beers, HRD and WDC, ed.), except for the AWDC itself.
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