Israeli Diamond Exports Decline in Early 2006

Net exports of polished diamonds from Israel declined 6.9 percent in January and February 2006, compared with figures from the same period in 2005. According to statistics released by Shmuel Mordechai, diamond controller for the Israel Ministry of Industry, Trade & Labor, 2006 polished diamond export figures totaled $1.23 billion, compared with $1.32 billion exported in the same period last year.

Net imports of rough diamonds also declined by 5.7 percent in January and February 2006, reaching $782.3 million compared with $829.7 million in the same period of 2005. For January and February 2006, net exports of rough diamonds totaled $507.8 million, indicating a decline of 19.9 percent over the same period last year, when net exports of rough totaled $633.8 million.

Israel’s net imports of polished diamonds since the beginning of 2006 increased by 2.4 percent to total $571.2 million, compared with $557.6 million in the same period of 2005. In February, however, they decreased by 3.1 percent, totaling $314.8 million, compared with $324.8 million in the same month of 2005.

In releasing these results in a statement, Mordechai emphasized that it is still too early to predict how the Israeli diamond industry will perform during the rest of 2006. The major export markets for Israel’s polished diamonds (February figures) include the United States (57 percent), Hong Kong (22 percent), Belgium (7 percent), Switzerland (3 percent), and England (2 percent).