The 31st World Congress formally opened on Monday at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. During the first session of formal proceedings, the incumbent president, Shmuel Schnitzer, was unanimously elected for another two-year term in office. Admitted as new WFDB members were the Shangahi Diamond Exchange and the Dubai Diamond Exchange.
In his report to the WFDB General Assembly, Schnitzer, also president of the Israel Diamond Exchange, noted the difficulties being experienced by smaller and medium sized dealers following the inplementation of the Diamond Trading Company’s Supplier of Choice policy. But, the WFDB’s decision to continue its dialogue with the DTC had born fruit.
“The clearest achievement we attained in these talks is the DTC’s promise to continue to support the secondary market, through Diamdel,” Schnitzer said. “The leaders of the DTC—Gary Ralfe and Gareth Penny—ensured us that they will continue to supply rough in 2003 and 2004 in the amount of up to $500 million through Diamdel. We are pleased to note that in 2003, supply exceeded this amount, and after the 10th sight of 2004, this will once gain be repeated this year.
“The subject of Supplier of Choice is critical to us,” he continued. “Many of us are not sightholders, and therefore require supply from the secondary market. Therefore I view the DTC commitment as a significant achievement. And this is not simply a matter of words; it is expressed in action. But I ask myself—had we not chosen the path of ongoing dialogue but opted for head-on confrontation, would we have succeeded in reaching this result?”
In the vote for WFDB president, Schnitzer was nominated along with Jacob Banda, the president of the Diamond Dealers Club, and Derek Parsons, the president of the Diamond Bourse of Southeast United States. Both Banda and Parsons withdrew their candidacies before the vote.
Most of the WFDB previous executive committee were also returned to office. They include Ernest Blom, president of the Diamond Club of South Africa, who was re-elected vice president; Michael H. Vaughan of the Antwerpsche Diamantkring, who was re-elected secretary-general; Dieter Hahn of the Diamant und Edelsteinboerse Idar-Oberstein, who re-elected treasurer-general; Jacob Banda, the president of the Diamond Dealers Club; Julien Drijbooms, the president of the Vrije Diamanthandel; Freddy Hager, the president of the London Diamond Bourse and Club; Lawrence Ma, the chairman of the Diamond Federation of Hong Kong, and Sergey Oulin, the chairman of the Diamond Chamber of Russia. Joining the executive committee for the first time was Anoop Mehta, the president of the Bharat Diamond Bourse in Mumbai, India. Hager was reappointed WFDB deputy treasurer-general, and Rony Unterman was appointed deputy secretary general.
As its second order of business, the general assembely of the WFDB unanimously accepted two new members into its ranks, after it was decided that the candidates had met the requirements for federation membership. They are the Shanghai Diamond Exchange, which will become the first WFDB-affiliated bourse in mainland China, and the Dubai Diamond Exchange, which will become the first WFDB-affiliated bourse in the Arab world.
The congress, which is held every two years, serves as forum of the general assembly of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), as well as for the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA). This year, it is being hosted by the Diamond Dealers Club of New York and the Diamond Manufacturers & Importers Association of America.