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WFDB hosts first WFDB Asia Summit Meeting in Hong Kong
The meeting highlighted the potential of Asian diamond markets
By: Diamond World News Service
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Jul 2 2009 8:46PM
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Reference: 3955  

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It was the first ever WFDB Asia Summit Meeting held on June 29 in Hong Kong, where five of the six member diamond bourses of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), collected to strengthen ties with the WFDB. The WFDB took this initiative to organise the summit to embark on closer relations with its member diamond bourses in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.

The summit was hosted by the Diamond Federation of Hong Kong, and attended by Paz; Ernest Blom, WFDB vice president and honorary president; Boonyong Assarasakorn, President, and Pichet Romhuttirerk, Secretary General; of the Bangkok Diamond & Precious Stones Exchange; Michio Iwasaki, President of the Tokyo Diamond Exchange; Lawrence Ma, President, David Pong, Chairman, Paul Lau, Honorary Secretary, Lily Chan, General Manager, all of the Hong Kong Diamond Bourse; Lin Qiang, President, and Caroline Yuan, General Manager, of the Shanghai Diamond Exchange; Suresh Hathiramani, vice-president of the Diamond Exchange of Singapore; and Howard Pomerantz, roving ambassador for the Associate WFDB Mark Member Programme. Anoop Mehta, president of the Bharat Diamond Bourse, was unable to attend the meeting although he sent his best wishes for a successful meeting.

The summit opened with the spotlight on the Asian market. Paz noted that Asia will soon be one of the world's leading markets for diamonds and diamond jewellery and noted the achievements of China, one of Asia’s strongest markets. "'One of the WFDB's tasks is to make its members aware of changes in world markets and in particular to distribute essential information about the potential opportunities in Asia. In order to do so, we need to improve communication in both directions," Paz said. He noted China’s efforts in lowering taxes for diamonds, which has helped sustainable growth in the country, and that Russia and Turkey should emulate this. "The lowering of barriers is an incentive for cooperation between the Chinese and foreign members. By exchanging information, the respective parties can benefit from the intimate market knowledge they have at their disposal," he stated. Lin Qiang, president of the Shanghai Diamond Exchange, stated that after a significant downturn in the fourth quarter of 2008, China saw its market rebound in the first quarter of 2009. Lin acknowledged that cooperation between WFDB member bourses is most important to bring about further growth in the market.

Bourse representatives from Bangkok, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore explained initiatives taken by the governments in China, Thailand and Singapore to assist the diamond and jewellery industry and trade to bridge the economic downturn. The exports performance of the Asian markets is highly dependent on the turnarounds of the western economies, the USA in particular. Local jewellery consumption has dropped somewhat but not dramatically. The Japanese market has been affected by a long slump in the luxury product consumer market, but analysts foresee a significant recovery in the spring of 2010.

The WFDB also presented ways to assist its Asian members. Suresh Hathiramani, vice-president of the Diamond Exchange of Singapore, emphasised that WFDB needs to help preserve existing market segments such as the engagement and bridal diamond jewellery markets, as diamond rings are most popular for engagement and bridal jewellery. Lawrence Ma, President of the Hong Kong Diamond Bourse stressed the importance of WFDB's role in the industry and suggested that WFDB provide more educational information to the downstream market on mining, manufacturing and diamond marketing and offer diamond market statistics to retailers.

Ernest Blom, WFDB vice president and honorary president, identified the message that diamonds are an asset as they retain their value, is important in the current sluggish market. Howard Pomerantz, roving ambassador for the Associate WFDB Mark Member Programme, gave an overview of the WFDB Mark programme, and of WFDB's efforts to set up InterBourse areas - diamond trading areas at international jewellery trade shows, where members of WFDB affiliated bourses can trade diamonds at relatively low participation fees.

The summit was successful in its knowledge sharing and Paz mentioned considering it to be an annual event, with the next slated for 2010.

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