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Belgium’s Rough Trade Hits Decade Low

Exports decline in first half.
Jul 15, 2019 11:57 AM   By Rapaport News
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Belgium’s rough-diamond trade fell in the first half to its lowest level since the financial crisis.  

Rough imports to the country declined 26% year on year to $4.36 billion during the six months ending June 30, according to recent data from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). The last time inbound shipments were below that level was when the trade was recovering from the economic crash in the second half of 2009, Rapaport records show. Exports from the industry’s largest rough-trading hub also hit a decade low by value. 

The figures reflect a slump in global rough demand, as reported by the major diamond-mining companies. De Beers’ rough sales fell 18% to $2.38 billion in the first half, while Alrosa’s dropped 25% to $4.16 billion, according to Rapaport estimates. 

Belgium's rough trade showed similar declines in June, while polished-diamond exports dropped 20% during the month, the AWDC reported. 

Millions unless stated otherwise June 2019 Year-on-year change
Polished exports $836 -20%
Polished imports $1,020 -12%
Net polished exports -$184 Deficit increased 62%
Rough imports $681 -21%
Rough exports $806 -26%
Net rough imports -$125 Deficit decreased 45%
Net diamond account -$59 2018: Surplus of $114M
Polished exports: volume 366,066 carats -16%
Average price of polished exports $2,283/carat -5%
  1H 2019 Year-on-year change
Polished exports $5,912 -4%
Polished imports $6,173 0%
Net polished exports -$261 Deficit increased 463%
Rough imports $4,360 -26%
Rough exports $4,982 -27%
Net rough imports -$622 Deficit decreased 35%
Net diamond account $361 -61%
Polished exports: volume 2.2 million carats -13%
Average price of polished exports $2,662/carat 11%

Source: Antwerp World Diamond Centre/Rapaport archives

About the data: Belgium is usually a net exporter of polished diamonds. As such, net polished exports — representing polished exports minus polished imports — will normally be a positive number. The nation is also a net exporter of rough. While Antwerp is home to some high-value manufacturing, its main role in the market is as a facilitator of rough-diamond trading, with companies from around the world coming to the city to buy rough. The net diamond account is total rough and polished exports minus total imports. It is Belgium’s diamond trade balance, and shows the added value the nation creates by exporting rough or manufacturing it into polished.

Image: Diamond processing in Antwerp. (AWDC)
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Tags: Antwerp, Antwerp World Diamond Centre, Belgium, exports, imports, net diamond account, net polished exports, Net rough imports, polished exports, polished imports, Rapaport News, rough exports, rough imports, trade, trade data
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