Israel Exports Rise in March, Fall in April

Net polished diamond exports from Israel rose 6.4 percent in March 2006, reaching $672 million, compared with $631.6 million in March 2005, according to statistics released by the Israel Ministry of Industry, Trade & Labor’s diamond controller, Shmuel Mordechai.

But in April, net polished exports decreased by 22.5 percent to $258.4 million, compared with $333.6 million in April 2005.

To date, 2006 net polished diamond exports from Israel declined 5.5 percent to approximately $2.1 billion, compared with $2.3 billion during the same period last year.

Net imports of rough diamonds in March 2006 decreased by 31 per- cent to total $331.5 million, as compared with $480.7 million in March 2005, but increased 14 percent to $334 million in April, compared with $292.7 million last year. From the beginning of the year, net rough imports declined by 9.8 percent from 2005 figures.

Net rough diamond exports from Israel declined by 3.8 percent to $262.1 million in March 2006, and by 13.2 percent in April to total $196.3 million.

Israel’s net imports of polished diamonds increased 3.3 percent in March 2006, to $349.8 million, and by 5.3 percent in April, to a total of $299.1 million. Since the beginning of 2006, net polished imports are up by 3.5 percent over the same period of 2005.

The major export markets for Israel’s polished diamonds in April were the United States, 60 percent; Hong Kong, 15 percent; Belgium, 8 percent; England, 3 percent; and Japan, 1 percent. For March, both Switzerland and China were also named among the country’s top export markets, purchasing 11 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

Separately, Israeli diamond companies met with Canadian rough diamond producers last month in Ramat Gan, at a seminar organized by the Israel Diamond Institute’s Rough Diamond Committee. Speakers included officials from both the Canadian government and the private sector.

IDI chairman Simcha Lustig, who chairs IDI’s Rough Diamond Committee, said the seminar was part of IDI’s efforts to introduce additional rough sources to the Israeli diamond industry. Israel imported $5.3 billion in diamonds in 2005. Previous seminars, on Sierra Leone and South Africa, yielded productive business relations, and Lustig expects the Canadian- focused event to do the same.

“I have no doubt that this event will lead to an even greater number of profitable connections,” he said, adding that Canada currently produces 15 percent of the world’s rough and is expected to produce 25 percent by 2010 and 50 percent by 2020.

Canadian ambassador to Israel, Donald Sinclair, said that although “Israel doesn’t have the mines, it has the brains” needed for the diamond industry. Sinclair stressed that Canada is an active sponsor of the Kimberley Process, and that this commitment represents Canadian values and interests.