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Hong Kong Show Cancellation Hits Belgium Trade

Polished exports down 40% in September as recovery stalls.
Oct 12, 2020 8:13 AM   By Rapaport News
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 Belgium’s polished shipments slumped last month as the cancellation of the September Hong Kong show and continued uncertainty around Covid-19 stalled the sector’s recovery.

“Rough is performing really well; polished is still somewhat subdued,” a spokesperson for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) told Rapaport News on Monday. “It’s not like polished is flying out the doors anywhere else in the world. [The cause of the decline] is probably the pandemic plus the Hong Kong September [fair] being canceled.”

Exports of polished diamonds fell 40% year on year to $524 million for the month, according to data the AWDC released in recent days. Export volume slipped 8% to 314,262 carats, with the average price down 35% to $1,668 per carat. Polished imports dropped 35% to $557 million.

The downturn follows a promising August, when a release of pent-up demand led to Belgium’s first increase in polished exports for 16 months. The September reversal reflects weaker trading with Hong Kong, as exhibitors at Jewellery & Gem World Hong Kong (formerly the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair) usually ship goods to and from the event during the month.

Polished exports to the municipality slid 76% to $102.4 million in September, with imports plummeting 79% to $78.5 million. By contrast, polished orders from the US rose 4% to $174.9 million, partly offsetting the slump.

Rough trading performed better as De Beers and Alrosa resumed sales in larger quantities following a collapse in demand that lasted for several months. Belgium’s rough imports rose 38% to $837.6 million, the highest since November 2018, while rough exports jumped 44% to $1.08 billion.

The country’s net diamond account — representing total rough and polished exports minus total imports — increased 35% to $211.4 million, according to Rapaport calculations.

For the first nine months of the year, polished exports plunged 51% to $3.94 billion. Rough imports declined 26% to $4.39 billion.

Image: The Antwerp Diamond Bourse trading floor. (Antwerp World Diamond Centre)
Tags: Antwerp, Antwerp World Diamond Centre, AWDC, Belgium, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Hong Kong, Jewellery & Gem World Hong Kong, net diamond account, Rapaport News, September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair
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