Belgium Diamond Trade Jumps in June

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RAPAPORT… Belgium’s polished-diamond exports rose 58% year on year to $739 million in June as the industry continued to recover from last year’s drops.

However, the rebound in polished trading was gentler than in rough, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) said Friday.

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, there have been no trade shows whatsoever, which traditionally create a lot of movement of polished goods in the industry,” explained Karen Rentmeesters, the AWDC’s senior manager for industry relations. “In addition, the devastating third wave in India in the first half of this year had a major impact on the somewhat slower trend of polished business picking up throughout the global industry.”

Still, “the last three months show positive signs,” Rentmeesters added. June saw the highest total for polished exports since September 2019, according to Rapaport archives.

Rough imports almost tripled to $1.01 billion, while rough exports more than quadrupled to $1.09 billion, the AWDC’s data showed. Total rough shipments in and out of the country in the first half of 2021 stood at $10.4 billion, some 11% higher than in the same month of 2019.

“Despite the lingering constraints of the pandemic, with second and third waves in many places around the world, Antwerp has proven to be a safe haven for producers to sell their rough,” Rentmeesters continued. “It is no surprise that, while competing hubs were forced to cancel tenders, new supply of rough found its way to Antwerp and continues to be sold here, demonstrated by very strong rough-import figures and a busy market.”

Antwerp hosted more than 75 diamond tenders in the first six months of the year, “boosted by strong rough prices and the city’s unrivaled critical mass of buyers and sellers,” the AWDC added.

Belgium trade data for June 2021

 June 2021Year-on-year change
   
Polished exports$739M58%
Polished imports$770M120%
Net polished exports-$31M2020: Surplus of $119M
Rough imports$1.01B187%
Rough exports$1.09B361%
Net rough imports-$86M2020: Surplus of $114M
Net diamond account$55M1068%
   
Polished exports by volume325,066 carats122%
Average price of polished exports$2,273/carat-29%
   
 January-June 2021Year-on-year change
   
Polished exports$3.65B47%
Polished imports$3.75B50%
Net polished exports-$102MDeficit increased 590%
Rough imports$5B82%
Rough exports$5.39B139%
Net rough imports-$391M2020: Surplus of $495M
Net diamond account$289M2020: Deficit of $510M
   
Polished exports by volume1.8 million carats49%
Average price of polished exports$2,056/carat-2%
Sources: Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC); Rapaport archives.

About the data: Belgium is usually a net exporter of polished diamonds. As such, net polished exports — representing polished exports minus polished imports — will normally be a positive number. The nation has historically been a net importer of rough, though in recent years, it has often been a net rough exporter. While Antwerp is still home to some high-value manufacturing, its main role in the market is as a facilitator of rough-diamond trading, with companies from around the world coming to the city to buy rough. The net diamond account is total rough and polished exports minus total imports. It is Belgium’s diamond trade balance, and shows the added value the nation creates by exporting rough or manufacturing it into polished.

Image: The Antwerp diamond district. (AWDC)

Source: diamonds.net Rapaport

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