U.S. approves Clean Diamond Trade Act

President Bush, on Friday, signed into law The Clean Diamond Trade Act. With his signature the United States formerly endorsed the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme—a plan designed to halt the trade of illicit diamonds through a certification plan that would effectively track the trade of diamonds from the mine to the store.

Bush reportedly said in a statement after signing the legislation that these so-called “conflict” diamonds have been used by rebel groups in Africa, “To finance their atrocities committed on civilian populations and their insurrections against internationally recognized governments.”

The Clean Diamond Trade Act requires diamond dealers to keep records of all diamond shipments and make such records available to U.S. law enforcement authorities.

A broad coalition of human rights, religious, and humanitarian groups backed the legislation, which was approved by Congress earlier this month.

Industry leaders welcomed the signing of the legislation and promised strong international enforcement.

Eli Izhakoff, chairman of the World Diamond Council, and Matthew Runci, executive director of WDC and president/CEO of Jewelers of America (JA), said in a joint statement that enactment of the Clean Diamond Trade Act makes the U.S. “a full participant” in the Kimberley Process. “This participation is critical to the system’s success in excluding conflict diamonds from the legitimate supply chain.”

Countries participating in the Kimberley Process will hold their meeting April 26 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“This plenary session will consider proposals for standardizing the compilation and analysis of government trade statistics and for monitoring enforcement of the certification scheme going forward,” the joint statement said. “This is essentially the responsibility of governments of all the nations involved in extracting, processing, exporting, and importing of rough diamonds.”

The statement continues, “We will work for the creation of a practical and effective statistics regime and a credible and effective monitoring system.”

Diamond importing and exporting countries agreed to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme last November after more than two years of negotiations. It went into effect in January and has been adopted by more than 50 countries.

Americans buy 65 to 70 percent of the world’s diamonds, including rough diamonds, polished stones and jewelry containing diamonds, according to the U.S. General Accounting Office.

The United States imports relatively few rough diamonds compared to other countries, but still purchased approximately $816 million worth from 53 countries in 2000, the GAO reports.