India for greater diamond trade co-operation with Africa

November 3rd, 2008 - 8:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 3 (IANS) India Monday called for greater trade co-operation with African diamond producing nations - Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Congo - to name a few. “India is fully committed to working with African producers of rough diamonds to assist them to move up the value chain,” said India’s Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh at the four-day plenary of Kimberley Certification Process Scheme (KPCS) which began here Monday.

Referring to his deliberations with the authorities in Angola, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Congo, Ramesh said: “We have offered our expertise in mining technology with a focus on beneficiation.”

“We have offered to establish diamond cutting and polishing facilities and train local people in this craft both in India and in the producing countries.”

“I am hopeful that India’s offer will be taken up by these countries. I am convinced that this is a win-win proposition for both India and the African diamond producing nations.”

Nearly 350 delegates from over 45 KPCS member-nations are participating in the deliberations, which will discuss various issues related to diamond certification and trade in “conflict diamonds” that are illegally mined and used by rebel groups to finance wars.

Referring to the issue of differential prices, Jairam Ramesh said: “We need immediately to put in place policies that will restore stability in the rough diamond market.”

He also urged upon the KPCS participants to “make all efforts to accommodate the continued operation of the trade with minimum impediments.”

“As governments, we should assist and support - not become obstacles. It is incumbent upon us not only to be alert but also to keep up our markets and help each other out.”

KPCS, an initiative of the United Nations (UN), is an international certification scheme that regulates trade in rough diamonds by preventing the flow of conflict diamonds.

Some of the key member-nations participating in the global meet are Australia, the US, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Canada, Congo, Israel, Liberia, Namibia, South Africa, Russia, China, Britain, Romania, Brazil and Tanzania.

The KPCS currently has 48 delegates representing 74 countries. India, the chair of the scheme till December 2008, is one of the founding members of the KPCS.

Fact sheet on KPCS

What: The Kimberley Process is an initiative of governments, industry and civil society to stem the flow of conflict diamonds.

Why: Trade in these illicit precious stones has fuelled decades of devastating conflicts in countries such as Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone.

When: The genesis of the process was in a meeting in May 2000 among South African diamond producing nations in Kimberley, South Africa. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in December that year to free the world of conflict diamonds, and following that, the process came into force in 2003.

Process: The KPCS imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as “conflict-free”. Procuring diamonds from bona fide sources ensures this, accompanied by a certificate.

Success: Diamond experts estimate that conflict diamonds now represent only a fraction of one percent of the international trade in diamonds, compared to estimates of up to 15 percent in the 1990s.

Indian diamond industry: Nine out of every 10 rough diamonds in the world are cut and polished in India, employing one million people directly. The country exported cut and polished diamonds worth $13.36 billion in 2007-08, registering a 36.8 percent growth over the previous year.

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