Boycott talks and global trends take toll on Belgian diamond trade
The diamond sector's share of Belgian imports and exports is declining, according to figures from the National Bank of Belgium. The decline is partly due to the expected European boycott of Russian diamonds following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"The precious stones sector, and diamonds in particular, continues to perform poorly," said a press release on the October import and export figures. In the first 10 months of 2023, for example, the sector's share fell to 2.9 per cent of Belgium's total export value and 2.5 per cent of its total import value. In 2019 - before the pandemic - the figures were 4.1 per cent and 3.7 per cent, respectively.
The National Bank points to several factors. For example, the diamond sector is suffering from competition from cheaper artificial stones. In addition, demand for diamonds in China has been weak due to a relatively poor economic situation and a downward trend in the number of marriages.
With lower demand from China and other countries, the major diamond-cutting country of India is also buying fewer rough diamonds.
In addition, there is the prospect of a European boycott of Russian diamonds. "The prospect of a possible European boycott means that many Belgian diamond traders have adjusted their trade flows and are trading less via Belgium," says the press release.
Total Belgian imports from August to October were 21.8 per cent lower than in the same period in 2022, while total exports fell by 18.6 per cent. Nevertheless, the National Bank speaks of "cautious hope for a possible turnaround", as the declines in October (13.5 and 14.1 per cent) were much more limited than in September (24.8 and 20.7 per cent).
© BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK