Recently, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) started a charm offensive in Brazil to ensure that the Brazilians will export their increasing production of diamonds to Antwerp.
Currently, Brazil’s diamond production doesn’t count for much: approximately 50.000 carats per annum, representing a value of 2.7 million dollars. They mainly extract diamond artisanal from riverbeds. In comparison: the largest producers exploit annually 20 to 30 million carats. Brazil also intends to position itself as a major market player. According to the AWDC there are about 50 potential industrial diamond mines discovered.
Antwerp wants access to this new market. Due to the high Belgian labour costs and taxes, the competition with other major trading centers, such as Dubai and Mumbai, is high. The diamond capital wants to make a difference by offering Brazilians additional services, so that they want to export their diamonds to Antwerp. Half of Brazilian’s diamond production now goes to the Emirates, only 10 percent to Antwerp.
Brazilian officials are trained to recognize diamonds. A better technical knowledge must ensure that they export diamonds faster. In most countries, there are about 2 days between the application and the delivery of the export license. In Brazil, it lasts 90 (!) days. In addition, the training should ensure that officials can deliver the so-called Kimberley certificates. The Kimberley Process is the international regulation which needs to avoid that rebel groups who use rough diamonds to fund arms and conflict. This is in favour of Antwerp. At this moment, most of the Brazilian diamonds are privately traded. If Brazil joins, the capital of diamond eliminates the illegal competition immediately.
We need a lot of lobbying to convince the Brazilians. During a previous mission last year, there were already scanning conversations between the Secretary of State for Foreign Trade (Pieter De Crem), AWDC-CEO (Ari Epstein) and the Brazilian authorities.
Last year, 193 million carat passed through Antwerp (= 48.3 billion dollars), accounting for 84 percent of the rough diamonds and 50 percent of all polished diamonds. Antwerp remains the world leader, but loses more and more market share. Therefore, having an agreement with the Brazilians to trade their diamonds through Antwerp is very important.