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Slowdown in Belgian Shipments Eases

May and June still show sharp drop in trading, but not as steep as April.
Jun 25, 2020 9:19 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... 
Belgium’s diamond trade continued to decline in May, but at a gentler pace that in the previous month as global markets gradually reopened. Total imports and exports of rough and polished stones fell 81% year on year, compared with an 89% slump in April, according to data from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC).

While the coronavirus still impacted the sector, the improvement reflected both stronger consumer demand and the resumption of cargo flights, an AWDC spokesperson told Rapaport News. Polished exports to the US dropped 88% in May, whereas in April they plummeted 97%.

June has brought a further easing of the decline, with sales down 53% year on year for the first 19 days of the month, the spokesperson added. For the week beginning June 15, the decline was 44%.

Belgium Trade Data for May 2020
  May 2020 Year-on-year change
     
Polished exports $212M -82%
Polished imports $224M -79%
Net polished exports -$12M 2019: Surplus of $128M
Rough imports $144M -81%
Rough exports $123M -83%
Net rough imports $21M 7%
Net diamond account -$33.2M 2019: Surplus of $108M
     
Polished exports: volume 111,059 carats -71%
Average price of polished exports $1,912/carat -38%
     
  Jan-May 2020 Year-on-year change
     
Polished exports $2.02B -60%
Polished imports $2.16B -58%
Net polished exports -$131M Deficit increased 72%
Rough imports $2.39B -35%
Rough exports $2.01B -52%
Net rough imports $379M 2019: Deficit of $496M
Net diamond account -$514M 2019: Surplus of $420M
     
Polished exports: volume 1 million carats -44%
Average price of polished exports $1,941/carat -29%


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: Antwerp Port House. (Shutterstock)
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Tags: Antwerp, Antwerp World Diamond Centre, AWDC, Belgium, Rapaport News
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