The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) today announced the Antwerp diamond trade figures for 2015, noting a nearly 18% overall decline in imports and exports in comparison to the record year of 2014. Antwerp traded 48.3 billion USD in 2015 compared to 58.8 billion last year.
The rough trade found it particularly difficult in the face of the massive downturn in the manufacturing industry and the widespread glut of rough diamond supply, as the value of exports and imports both fell by approximately 25%. Some $11.6 billion in rough (-26.5%) was exported from Antwerp, while $11 billion (-25%) in rough was imported. These figures are underpinned by a 16% decline in the volume of rough exports and imports (96 million and 84 million carats respectively).
The figures for Antwerp's polished trade, while down, did not fall as precipitously despite the widely-analyzed softening of diamond demand. Polished exports fell 9% on the year to $13 billion (from $14.4 billion) based on exports of 6 million carats, while polished imports declined 8.4% to $12.7 billion (from 13.8) based on imports of 6.5 million carats. This means that the total amount of polished imports/exports ($25.7 billion) exceeded that of rough ($22.6 billion) for the first time in years.
AWDC CEO Ari Epstein stated that, “The global diamond industry took a beating this year. Thanks to our strong foundations and ability to be agile and adopt innovative new technologies, Antwerp has succeeded in safeguarding its world-leading position with regard to rough as well as polished diamonds. Antwerp will consequently emerge from this downturn in a position of strength, poised for a profitable year ahead.”
Slowed growth in the BRIC countries - particularly China, the second largest market for polished diamonds after the United States – had a huge impact on the diamond trade.
While Antwerp did have a poor year by any measure, it still did not suffer as much as other leading diamond trade centres such as Israel and India, with Israel's overall trade falling a total of 24.16% based on recently released figures. These figures reconfirmed those coming out of Antwerp, as Israel's net rough diamond imports in 2015 fell 30.9% to US$2.8 billion and its polished exports fell over 20%. India's diamond trade has slowed approximately 25% in 2015 (based on 9m figures and prior press releases). Dubai does not release its trade figures, so the exact damage is anyone's guess.
In short, it appears that Antwerp maintained its percentage of the diamond pie, but that pie shrank significantly in 2015. In this light, AWDC is turning to new technologies to meet the industry’s alternative financial services needs for international transactions, and is starting a pilot program with two FinTech companies to offer international transactions that are fast, transparent and instant.
Source: The Diamond Loupe