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In conversation with Nishit Parikh
"My Role is to promote Antwerp, and i don't care about people's origin. What matters to me, if i work with people, is that they add their own contribution so that all together we can make Antwerp proud.
By: Diamond World News Service
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Aug 21 2010 5:45PM
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Reference: 5229  

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What is your assessment of the future role of the Antwerp centre? Do you foresee some diminishing of its role with activity moving to other centres?

If we look at Antwerp today, the main part of our business lies in the fact that we are the premier trading centre of the world. Obviously, my main concern is to keep and expand the rough goods coming in to Antwerp. But I believe the future of Antwerp isn’t limited to being the world’s leading trade centre only. Technological innovation is high on my agenda for Antwerp. We have to make sure we keep investing in technology and research. I believe there is a scope to bring manufacturing back to Antwerp. We can rely on hundreds of years worth of experience in this business, which is proven by the fact that almost every large or exceptional stone ends up in Antwerp. We have the skills and the know-how and nowadays manufacturing is not merely a matter of low labour cost anymore. The necessary technological progress in the diamond business is a fact. Antwerp has to take full advantage of the fact that we possess an important asset over other centres: we have a vast knowledge base that, combined with the right technology, can rekindle our strengths as a manufacturing hub, not just for rare and exceptional stones. From my own personal experience I think you need to have a good balance between trade and manufacturing if you want to be successful.

What is your overall assessment of the diamond industry post the 2008 crisis? To what extent has recovery taken place?

The Belgian diamond industry showed in June that it is on track to mark a strong year in 2010 with sharp rises in rough and polished diamond exports in both financial and volume terms.

For the first six months of this year, rough exports soared 78.9 per cent to 69.9 million carats worth $5.68 billion, a jump of 87.8 per cent. In the first half of 2010, rough diamond imports rose sharply – up 57.4 per cent on the same period of 2009 to 60.1 million carats worth $4.9 billion, a rise of 84.8 per cent.

Polished diamond exports climbed 2.5 per cent from the same period of 2009 to 3.63 million carats, there was a 32.2 percent rise in value terms to $5.35 billion. For the January-June period, polished diamond imports increased 2.7 per cent from a year earlier to 3.87 million carats worth $5.04 billion, a rise of 30.8 per cent.

From a sales point of view, we have recovered most of our strength.

What can be done to completely restore the health of the industry?

Everything looks good, but the world market is still fragile. A new economic downturn would somewhere could affect the diamond industry, alongside other industries. The Antwerp diamond companies are doing business again, and has proven to be stable and solid. Nevertheless, financial stability is of utmost importance, and the market must be very careful not to overheat.

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