Net polished exports from Israel fell 11.8 percent to $6.24 billion, compared to $7.07 billion in 2007, according to figures issued by theIsrael Ministry of Industry, Trade & Labor’s Diamond Controller, Shmuel Mordechai. Net rough diamond exports totaled $3.31 billion, a 2 percent decline, compared to $3.38 billion in 2007.
Net imports of polished diamonds stood at $$4.38 billion, down 3.9 percent over the amount in 2007 when they totaled $4.56 billion. Net imports of rough diamonds reached $4.48 billion, compared to $5.08 billion in 2007, a decrease of 11.9 percent.
The U.S. continued to be the largest market for Israeli diamonds, accounting for 43 percent, while Hong Kong stood at 23 percent, Belgium 9 percent, Switzerland 8 percent and the U.K. 3 percent.
Leaders of the Israeli Diamond Industry said 2008 started out as a very favorable year for the industry, and that the decline in results of the last quarter was due to the world economic crisis which hit hard in the Israeli industry’s major export markets.
“This is a strong industry that is known for its outstanding professionalism and skill,” said Moti Ganz, chairman of the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies, president of the Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association, and of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association. “It has shown impressive growth over the years and has proven its resilience and resourcefulness through many global changes. While we expect these difficulties to continue for some months, we know that the industry will rally and return to its former growth rates.”
Ganz continued, “My advice to diamantaires is not to speculate. One should not buy goods in the hope that prices will increase in the months ahead. One should only buy rough that is needed and at a price that enables the sale of the polished at some profit.”
Avi Paz, president of the Israel Diamond Exchange and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, said “We foresaw the slowdown early on and immediately began to take steps to deal with its effects. We are working through a number of different channels to help the Israeli industry weather this crisis.”