The 38th World Diamond Congress concluded in Mumbai yesterday, with the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) agreeing on examining social injustices in artisanal mining communities towards including them in the scope of the Kimberley Process (KP).
WFDB President Ernie Blom said at a press conference at the conclusion of the congress, “We think that the KP was set up to primarily stop the flow of conflict diamonds into the world’s markets. It has been very successful in this. Conflict diamonds constituted some four percent of the world’s market in 2000, when the KP was set up. Today they account for under 0.2 percent of the diamonds in world markets.”
Blom went on to say, however, “But if we have to, we must look into social issues as well. We think, however, that 99 percent of the people in the industry do business ethically. There are a few rotten apples, but the entire industry shouldn’t be tainted by them.”
In Blom’s view, the nomenclature to describe lab-grown and natural diamonds was the biggest issue that needed tackling. Regarding this, Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) President Anoop Mehta said that following a detailed explanation by International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA) President Ronnie Vanderlinden on exactly what the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruling on nomenclature guidelines meant for the industry, the situation wasn’t as serious as first thought.
In answer to a question, Mehta said that thought the Indian industry had got the government to list natural and lab-grown polished diamonds under separate codes in the the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS Code), this was only half the job done. “We have to work towards getting separate HS Codes for natural and lab-grown rough diamonds as well,” he said, adding, “the only country today that has a comprehensive HS Code system for all diamonds is China. India now has to get there.”
Blom commented, “The WFDB is going to push all the member states of the KP to adopt separate HS Codes for both rough and polished lab-grown and natural diamonds.” Since August 2013, the KP has 54 participants, representing 81 countries, with the European Union and its 28 Member States counting as a single participant, represented by the European Commission. KP members account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds.
As regards bank finance to the global diamond industry, Blom and Mehta said that one of the primary reasons for the drying up of institutional credit was the increased business risk that came with the extra reporting norms imposed on the diamond industry. Both the World Diamond Council (WDC) and the WFDB were taking up the issues of the extra reporting norms required of the diamond industry, they said.
In response to a question, Blom and Mehta also said that there was an move to revive the World Diamond Mark, with an exploratory initiative being undertaken by industry veteran Peter Meeus. The new focus would be on Asia, they said.
In a separate WFDB press release, Blom also announced that during his fourth two-year term in office, he would be pushing a succession planning policy to ensure that younger members of the diamond trade are brought on board and become active in the running of the organisation. "It is imperative that we all work to bring this about. There are many excellent younger members of the trade, both men and women, across the globe and we must help to groom them for positions of leadership."