The G7 and the EU are considering an embargo on exports of precious stones from the sanctioned country
A group of 16 leading international diamond manufacturers and traders, including De Beers, have decried the latest EU and G7 proposal to trace the origin of diamonds in order to block Russian gems from entering the global market, Financial Times reported on Wednesday.
According to a letter from the group to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), Belgium’s industry lobby, the proposal lacks sufficient “transparency, accountability and inclusivity.”
The G7 recently announced its intention to place an embargo on direct and indirect imports of Russian diamonds, with the legislation expected to come into force in the coming weeks. Belgium earlier stalled efforts of Western states to ban Russian diamonds, warning that Antwerp, through which 90% of the world’s diamonds pass, would risk losing business as a diamond hub to Dubai. However, the country has now come up with its own diamond ban.
Under the Belgian proposal, the G7 would introduce a diamond tracking system, similar to the SWIFT international messaging system between banks, several media outlets reported last week citing sources in the Belgian government. The mechanism would allow the G7 to bar diamonds with links to Russia from entering its market.
AWDC admitted it provided “technical advice” on the ban to the Belgian government, noting that its final proposal was submitted to G7 countries and the European Commission after “broad government to government consultations” over the past several months.
Belgium would be seriously affected by restrictions on Russian diamonds, an unnamed Belgian government official has warned.
“Belgium will suffer big losses. The Antwerp diamond industry has a turnover of €47 billion [$50.3 billion] a year, and 40% of its diamonds are Russian,” the official was cited as saying by RIA Novosti.
The US, UK, Canada, and New Zealand have already banned imports of Russian rough diamonds. Washington, however, allows the import of gems extracted in Russia only if they have been processed in other countries. The EU also reportedly plans to include a ban on Russian diamonds similar to that of the G7 in its next sanctions package on Moscow.
Russia, meanwhile, has been actively redirecting its diamond trade to alternative markets, including China, India, the UAE, Armenia, and Belarus.