India to halt diamond imports
India’s diamond industry is planning a two-month pause on imports of rough stones, local media reported on Tuesday, citing a joint statement from the country’s five leading trade bodies.
The decision was made at a meeting between the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), Bharat Diamond Bourse, Surat Diamond Bourse, The Mumbai Diamond Merchants Association (MDMA), and the Surat Diamond Association. The proposed import halt will run through mid-December, but the trade bodies said they plan to review the situation in the first week of December and determine whether the measure should be prolonged.
“It was suggested that members may be advised to halt import of rough diamonds beginning 15 October to 15 December 2023. It was assessed that halting imports of rough diamonds will help industry better manage the balance between demand and supply, thereby protecting the value of assets and increase consumer confidence,” the trade bodies said in a joint statement signed by Vipul Shah, chairman of GJEPC.
The move comes amid a sharp drop in exports of precious stones from India, which caused an oversupply of polished diamonds in the country’s inventories and, consequently, a slump in prices.
“India’s exports of polished diamonds have fallen by more than 25% in the January-August period as demand for loose polished diamonds and jewelry from key consumers like US and China has been materially affected, which is why we have appealed to our members to halt imports of roughs,” Shah told the newspaper, Mint, commenting on the decision. He added that prices of polished diamonds are currently down by 15-20%.
The trade bodies noted that the move will be “voluntary” and not a mandatory import ban.
India is the world’s largest processor of rough diamonds, responsible for cutting and polishing over 90% of the world’s gems. Earlier this month, one of India’s foremost suppliers of rough stones, Russian mining giant Alrosa, placed a temporary suspension on exports in September and October at the request of India’s GJEPC. The move was taken in an attempt to deal with the oversupply.
This is not the first time that India has moved to halt rough diamond imports to stabilize the market. The country’s diamond industry took similar steps in 2020 when trading nearly stopped during Covid-19 pandemic-related lockdowns.
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