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Russian diamond ban by EU, G7 hurting India: Minister

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THE Indian government has taken up the issue of ban on imports of Russian-origin unpolished diamonds by the 27-member European Union (EU) and G7 nations as the measure will end up hurting the domestic diamond polishing industry, foreign minister S Jaishankar has said.

The initial stage of an EU and G7 ban on imports of Russia-origin diamonds via third countries came into effect in early March, a step taken as part of sanctions on Moscow in response to its invasion of Ukraine. Sanctions have been currently imposed on one-carat diamonds.

“Our effort is to delay (the initial stage of the ban), soften it, and best of all, not let this happen. For us, this has become a priority issue,” Jaishankar said in Surat, the diamond hub of India where 90 per cent of the world’s rough diamond gets polished.

While interacting with young business leaders organised by the Disha Foundation in Surat, the minister said the government is making efforts to explain to the EU and G7 countries that their decision would hurt a third country and not Russia.

He pointed out that the countries that have banned the imports of Russian rough diamonds via third countries are only consumers and not many jobs there are dependent on it.

Prime minister Narendra Modi had recently spoken to his Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo, and commerce minister Piyush Goyal is going to follow up on this in a few days, Jaishankar said.

Antwerp’s woes

Last month, Antwerp’s diamond dealers had complained of long delays following the ban on Russian-origin diamonds. They fear the disruptions would erode the competitive advantage of the centuries-old Antwerp diamond trade.

Over 100 local firms wrote a letter on March 13 to Belgium’s main diamond industry group, Antwerp World Diamond Centre, and requested a review of the new procedures.

“While we fully support the decisions taken by Belgium, the European Union, and the G7 nations, in regards to the sanctions of January 1, 2024, the implementation of the measures to enforce the sanction has adversely affected all of our operations,” said the letter

“The intention was to prevent the flow of diamonds from sanctioned states, but the reality we face is the severe disruption of our supply chains, and alienation from the rest of the global trade.”

Antwerp remains the world’s biggest diamond hub though 90 per cent of stones are polished in India.

Belgium had pushed hard for the G7 to adopt a version of its proposed plan to try to prevent Antwerp from losing more business after major Western jewellers began eschewing Russian stones. (Agencies)

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