Israeli diamond industry boosts exports – IDI at BASELWORLD
BASEL, Switzerland, March 9, 2012 – The Israeli diamond industry is boosting exports in several key markets such as China and India, and is increasing its participation in international trade shows, said Eli Avidar, Managing Director of the Israel Diamond Institute.
In 2011, Israel’s polished diamond exports jumped to $7.2 billion, exceeding the pre-crisis figures of 2007, when exports were at their highest level, Avidar told a press luncheon at BASELWORLD.
“This demonstrates that Israel has emerged from the (financial) crisis stronger and more resilient than ever,” he said.
“2011 was an excellent year – in all parameters Israel’s diamond trade showed double digit growth.”
Eli Avidar, Managing Director of the Israel Diamond Institute, addresses a press luncheon at BASELWORLD on March 9, 2012
The total turnover of the Israeli industry was $28 billion, Avidar said.
Polished diamond exports jumped by nearly a quarter compared with 2010. Net rough diamond exports rose nearly 15 percent to $3.5 billion.
Net polished imports jumped by a third to $5.7 billion.
Net rough diamond imports were up close to 18 percent to $4.4 billion.
“This is a clear testimony to the health and stability of the Israeli diamond industry,” Avidar said.
The industry today accounts for over 20 percent of Israel’s industrial exports, employing
20,000 people in Israel and 30,000 abroad.
In 2011, the IDI saw some signs of recovery in the United States, and the end of year sales were better than expected.
“There are many changes going on in the United States – it’s an election year and we expect that there will be a significant rise in demand for diamonds and diamond jewellery in 2012,” Avidar said.
GROWTH IN ASIA
Israeli companies are actively seeking opportunities in both China and India, which are leading diamond demand, by opening offices and participating in trade shows, Avidar said.
During 2011, six Israeli companies opened offices in Hong Kong, and so far this year, one more has opened. IDI’s Hong Kong office reports that more and more Israeli companies are sending representatives to Hong Kong for longer periods in advance of opening up offices there.
“We are optimistic that this trend will continue,” Avidar said.
So far, 45 Israeli companies have joined the Shanghai Diamond Exchange, and there are more in the process of joining.
Others are expanding their Chinese presence, opening offices in Shenzhen, Beijing and other Chinese cities.
“We are now beginning to see new markets opening up in Asia for Israeli diamonds,” Avidar said.
“These include Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan and Singapore.”
Diamond demand growth in Europe was expected to be subdued due in part to the impact of the euro zone crisis, Avidar said.
“The markets are more optimistic now, but there was no meteoric rise in demand for diamonds here last year, and it doesn’t look like there will this year either,” he said.
Avidar said high import taxes in former Soviet countries were slowing polished diamond trade.
“The Russian-speaking countries are still not fully open to the diamond trade, because of high import taxes on polished diamonds,” he said.
“This is the last major market which has yet to reduce taxes on diamonds.
“We firmly believe that the time has come for the diamond trade in these countries to be freed up.”
Over the past couple of years, the Israeli diamond industry has placed an increased emphasis on trade shows in important markets.
“We’ve doubled the number of trade shows we take part in, and increased the number of
exhibitors and exhibition space by 25 percent,” Avidar said.
“In several shows this year we had record participation of Israeli exhibitors – for example, in Hong Kong September we had 120 companies participating.
“We have added two more shows in India and a show in Bangkok, and we are also taking a more prominent role in the shows in which we participate by sponsoring important events and organizing market promotions.”