PM Narendra Modi emphasises on India to become world’s largest diamond trading hub

PM addressed a special speech via video conference at the 50th anniversary of GJEPC; he also said India will help African countries in skill development in gems and jewellery sector in their countries
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressing the diamond industry at the International Diamond Conference through live video conference, Mumbai
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressing the diamond industry at the International Diamond Conference through live video conference, Mumbai

The Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), the government of India undertaking for promotion of gems and jewellery exports celebrated their 50th anniversary event in style. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief attraction of the event. The Gala dinner event held on Sunday 19th March at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai witnessed whose who from the gems and jewellery industry from across the globe.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his special live video message congratulated GJEPC on their 50th Anniversary. He acknowledged the efforts taken by GJEPC to make India one of the largest diamond cutting and polishing hubs and the recognition India has received in global arena in the gems and jewellery sector.

Modi in his address expressed his desire to make India as the world’s largest diamond trading hub, a vision for 2022, when India will complete its 75 years of Independence. He said the gems and jewellery industry in India is the original example of Skill India. The industry has further tremendous potential to grow and also he acknowledged the traditional India jewellery making and designs.

Prime Minister also in his speech said, the ministry will consider GST and other demands from the gems and jewellery Industry, but he wants a roadmap from the Industry players on how India can be a global leader in the gems and jewellery Industry.

Prime Minister also said India will always support the African countries, especially the delegation which has come from Zimbabwe for skill development in gems and jewellery sector in their countries.

GJEPC kick started International Diamond Conference, “Mines to Market”. The two day seminar held in Mumbai on the diamond industry had speakers and representatives from mining companies, leading retail chains, Diamond Manufacturers, banks, prominent delegates from all across the world, global stakeholders of the diamond pipeline too were present.

The International Diamond Conference – Mines to Market organised by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council was inaugurated by Chief Guest Hon’ble Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Government of India. The conference is being held as part of the 50th year of the GJEPC’s establishment.

Mr Praveenshankar Pandya, Chairman GJEPC welcomed the Chief Guest Shri Piyush Goyal, Hon’ble Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Government of India, as well as the other dignitaries sharing the dais including Walter K. Chidakwa Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Republic of Zimbabwe. Other senior representatives present at the event were Paul Rowley, Executive Vice President Global Sight holder Sales, De Beers; Andrey Polyakov, Vice President, ALROSA; Vickram Merchant, Rio Tinto; James R.W. Pounds, Executive Vice President, Dominion Diamond Corporation; Stephane Fishcler, Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC); From the retail side, Bryan Morgan, Chief operation officer, Signet and David Bouffard, Vice President, Signet Corporate Affairs, and Abdul Salam KP, Group Executive Director, Malabar Gold & Diamonds; also Oded Edelman, Co-founder & CEO, R2Net –; Jean-Marc Lieberherr, Chief Executive Officer, DPA; Linus Koh, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Diamond Investment Exchange; Martin Rapaport, Chairman, Rapaport Group; Mark Van Bockstael, Chair, Working Group of Diamond Experts; Ms. Feriel Zerouki, Head of Government and Industry Relations, De Beers Group of Companies, External & Corporate Affairs, UK; Ms. Susan Jaquess; Tom Moses, and Ms. Nirupa Bhatt, from GIA and Ms. Debbie Azar, Founding Partner – Gemological Science International were present.

Pandya in his speech said, “The conference have participation of senior representatives from all segments of the diamond pipeline – from mining to trading, to diamond cutting to retail – as well as other stakeholders. The conference did not only explored opportunities but also examined the weaknesses and threats before the industry, including finance and ethical issues.

Mr Pandya in his speech expressed to Shri Piyush Goyal that, “Finding new diamond mines is always very difficult and we look forward to your support to explore the opportunities in India. Our country has a lot of deposits and a few years back Rio Tinto had found a viable deposit in Bunder in Chattisgarh. However, the project was embroiled in several issues, including legal ones, which led Rio Tinto exiting Bunder and gifting the project to the Chhattisgarh government. We urge you to use your good offices to take this project forward.”

Walter K. Chidakwa Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Republic of Zimbabwe, made an impassioned speech on the necessity of the diamond sector of Zimbabwe helping to alleviate poverty and to create opportunities for the poor children of his country. He outlined the huge potential which existed in Zimbabwe and called upon the world, and specifically India, to help realise it. “We also want to become diamond manufacturers, jewellery manufacturers,” Chidakwa said. “I request India to give us the technology and training to help us achieve our potential so that we can provide health welfare and education to our poor children.”

Russell Mehta, Vice Chairman, GJEPC made a presentation on India and the current situation facing the industry in the country. “The diamond industry is the original “Make in India” industry,” he said. He pointed out that when exports first began in 1966, polished diamond exports amounted US$ 17 million, representing about 3% of the world polished diamond market by value; in 2016 polished diamond exports had reached US$ 17 billion and represented 75 per cent of the world market by value.

Mehta also said that for growing the market for diamonds and diamond jewellery; ensuring that synthetics were kept strictly segregated from the natural diamond pipeline and transforming the diamond industry into a transparent, compliant and cashless one – a “Swachch Diamond Trade” in line with the “Swachch Bharat” campaign of the Prime Minister of India. Piyush Goyal, Hon’ble Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Government of India, who was the Chief Guest at the event said, “It is good to see the diamond industry of world converge in India. It is an industry which has impacted several lives in Africa, India and businesses all over the world.”

Goyal noted that in the 50 years of the Council’s existence – and 19 years of autonomy – the industry had grown from few millions to billions of dollars of exports. “I do believe that the industry and the Government have to work together in partnership on the basis of trust,” he said. He went on to say that the industry has to transform itself in many ways. “We have to re-orient ourselves to a different way of doing business.” Saying that the recent demonetization represented an opportunity, he called upon the diamond industry to implement fully transparent systems.

“Regarding the mining section, we will see what can be done,” Goyal said. He explained the Governments present policy of not granting Prospecting and Mining licences at one go, as there was a potential for misuse and corruption to creep in. He said that anyone could come forward to explore prospective areas. And once the results were in, a transparent bidding process would be held to award the mining licence.

“Revenue which comes in from this bidding process will go for better education, providing electricity and a shelter over the head of the poor sections of society,” he elaborated.

The chief conference moderator for Mines to Market was Chaim Even Zohar; and sponsors for the event were: Powered by partner GIA; Associate partner – Hari Krishna Exports. Co-partners - Dharmanandan Diamonds; Dimexon; Dominion Diamonds, GSI, H-Dipak, HRD Antwerp, Jasani, Jewelex, KBS, KGK, K.P. Sanghvi, Mahendra Brothers, Rosy Blue, SRK, and lanyard partner BVC.

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