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Surat diamond industry faces African challenge
Businessmen prefer polishing diamonds at the country of origin
By: Diamond World News Service
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Jul 6 2006 12:00AM
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Reference: 485  

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Even as the Surat diamond polishing industry is undergoing a lean patch, the future does not seem to be promising enough. There is a growing group of businessmen who, instead of bringing the diamonds to Surat, are looking at the lucrative benefits of getting them polished in the origin country itself. Sources in the industry say businessmen are already in talks with the governing authorities of African countries. The procedure involves getting a clearance certificate from the ministry of mines of the origin country as well as its government.

“The establishment of a polishing unit in the available country, especially in the case of African countries, gives complete control over the forward and backward integration of the diamond polishing process,” said Ajay Thakkar, a diamond businessman, who plans to open fifteen polishing units in the West African country of Togo. Since there is not a single diamond polishing unit in West Africa and no skilled workers are available in any of the African countries, diamond merchants plan to take a few workers with them abroad and train local workers with their help. Another advantage of establishing a polishing unit in the origin country is the benefit of paying lesser taxes. For a flat sum of $2,000 to the free trade zone of the origin country, a diamond merchant can export polished diamonds of desired quantity to any country, without paying any additional sum.

The only prerequisite for businessmen to establish such a unit or to export diamonds would be possession of the Kimberly Certification. The certification is a process, whereby the exporter attests that all the diamonds imported by him do not come from areas termed conflict zones by the United Nations (UN) of Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Congo. The European Union (EU) has a policy of allotting a sum of around five million Euros every year for the development of African countries. Businessmen are in talks with the EU to have a tie-up, which would arm the unemployed youth of the African country with the skill of polishing diamonds

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