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Israel’s Export Slowdown Eases in 2018

Polished shipments down 2.5% after years of heavier declines.
Jan 7, 2019 8:57 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Israel’s polished-diamond exports showed signs of stabilizing in 2018 after three years of heavier declines, according to government data.

Shipments slipped 2.5% to $4.48 billion for the year, the nation’s Ministry of Economy and Industry reported Sunday. That compares with drops of 20%, 6% and 4% in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively, Rapaport records show.

“Following a few years of…crisis for the diamond trade, we sense shoots of optimism…for the future of the sector,” said Yoram Dvash, president of the Israel Diamond Exchange.

Changes to the way the statistics were compiled had a negative impact on the year’s growth figure, which would have shown a marginal increase had the system remained the same, Dvash argued. The ministry didn’t explain what the adjustments to the calculations had been.

“Either way, I’m very happy about the fact that the sharp decline in exports has stopped, and about the indications that the sector is entering a better era,” Dvash added. “I’m hopeful that the situation will improve in 2019.”

Polished imports grew 4.1% to $3.04 billion, boosted by new rules enabling dealers in Israel to inspect diamonds for up to 30 days tax-free, the ministry added. Rough exports increased 1.1% to $2.25 billion. The ministry didn’t provide a growth rate for rough imports, but said the total amount was $2.66 billion — which works out 7% lower than the figure it reported for 2017.

Israel reports its diamond-trade figures on a net basis, which means they exclude goods that dealers ship across a border and subsequently bring back unsold.

Image: A diamantaire examines a stone during the 2016 International Diamond Week at the Israel Diamond Exchange. (Shutterstock)
Tags: exports, Israel, Israel Diamond Exchange, Ministry of Economy and Industry, polished exports, polished imports, polished-diamond exports, Rapaport News, rough exports, trade data, Yoram Dvash
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