Deepening slowdown slashes Belgian diamond imports/exports


ANTWERP, March 17, 2009 [AFNS]  –  Belgian imports and exports of rough and polished goods in February as published by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre show the ongoing slump in demand for rough and polished diamonds, AFNS reported.

Belgian polished exports fell 32.7 percent to 577,144 carats last month, and dropped 36.4 percent to $758.7 million.

Meanwhile, declines in polished imports were even larger, falling by 40.1 percent to 493,290 carats in January, and by 37.9 percent to $541.3 million.

The data for the first two months of the year showed a similar decline. Polished exports fell 34.9 percent to 1.05 million carats, and by 37.4 percent to $1.32 billion.

Polished imports in the January-February period fell 42.1 percent to 1.11 million carats, and by 38.0 percent to $1.20 billion.

As for rough exports, the situation was even more severe, with a 65.9 percent fall to 4.08 million carats in February, while in financial terms, there was a 69.4 percent fall to $344.8 million. In the first two months of the year, there was a 65.6 percent fall to 8.73 million carats, and a 69.9 percent drop to $649.1 million.

Rough imports posted a decline of 58.1 percent to 4.20 million carats, and a 71.2 percent drop to $277.2 million. In January-February, there was a 42.4 percent fall to 12.9 million carats, and a 63.5 percent drop to $737.7 million

As for export destinations, Hong Kong was in first place in the January-February period beating out the United States, although that could be partly due to Belgian diamantaires sending polished goods to Hong Kong ahead of the March 4-8 Hong Kong International Jewellery Show.

Exports to Hong Kong totalled 260,640 carats worth $346.7 million, declines of 7.3 percent and 27.6 percent, respectively.

The United States, meanwhile, imported just 130,106 carats, down 41.1 percent. In financial terms, there was a fall of 43.3 percent to $303.9 million. Similarly strong falls were recorded by almost all the other major export destinations, including
Switzerland, Israel, the UAE, U.K., India, Japan, Italy and France. The U.K. posted a smaller fall in carat terms than the other importers, and even posted a rise of 12.2 percent in financial terms.

Antwerp Facets News Service (AFNS).