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Belgium Shipments Hit 10-Year Low

January 16, 2020

RAPAPORT... Belgium’s diamond trade declined in 2019 as excess supply led to slower demand for rough and polished, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre said Wednesday.

Polished exports fell 13% to $9.93 billion, their lowest level since 2009, Rapaport records showed, while rough imports and exports both slumped 26%. Total trading was also the weakest in a decade, sliding 19% to $37.1 billion.

“Manufacturers and traders are mainly trying to reduce their stocks before they transition to purchasing new rough diamonds,” explained Ari Epstein, CEO of the AWDC, in a statement. US-China tensions and social unrest in Hong Kong have also reduced consumer demand, he added.

Belgium Trade Data for December 2019

Dec 2019Year-on-year change
Polished exports$579M-23%
Polished imports$538M-25%
Net polished exports$41M2%
Rough imports$648M-15%
Rough exports$980M-12%
Net rough imports-$332MDeficit narrowed 5%
Net diamond account$373M-4%
Polished exports: volume265,054 carats-28%
Average price of polished exports$2,184/carat7%
FY 2019Year-on-year change
Polished exports$9.93B-13%
Polished imports$10.06B-12%
Net polished exports-$135MDeficit widened from $2M
Rough imports$7.95B-26%
Rough exports$9.17B-26%
Net rough imports-$1.22BDeficit narrowed 32%
Net diamond account$1.08B-39%
Polished exports: volume4.1 million carats-15%
Average price of polished exports$2,431/carat2%

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: The Port House, Antwerp. (Shutterstock)

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