The UK has secured independent membership of the Kimberley Process (KP), enabling it to continue participating in the international rough-diamond trade after the nation leaves the European Union.
Britain’s decision to withdraw from the EU on January 31 requires the country to join the KP in its own right, as it is currently a member through the European bloc. Under a deal agreed in November, the UK will maintain EU membership for KP purposes until the end of 2020, and become an independent KP member from January 2021.
“When the UK becomes an independent participant in the KP, all rough-diamond exports from the UK to the EU will require UK KP certification,” the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office said in an update on November 25. “Rough-diamond exports from the EU to the UK will also need an EU-issued KP certificate.”
The development is potentially important for Belgium, which imports an average of 18.5 million carats of rough diamonds from the UK each year, valued at around EUR 600 million ($668 million), the Antwerp World Diamond Centre said in 2018. Only countries that are part of the KP system can import or export rough diamonds.
The UK government warned in 2018 that the departure from the EU — known as Brexit — threatened to shut the nation off from the global rough-diamond industry if the country failed to reach a divorce deal with its European counterparts on a range of trade issues.
The UK will become an independent member of the process immediately if it leaves the EU without a deal, the government also said. However, that scenario became less likely after lawmakers in the UK’s lower house approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement earlier this month.
Johnson’s deal includes an 11-month “implementation period,” ending December 31, during which the UK will try to reach a long-term trade arrangement with Europe.
Correction, January 15, 2020: An earlier version of this article incorrectly quoted Alan Cohen, president of the London Diamond Bourse, as saying the UK would become an independent member of the Kimberley Process immediately if the country leaves the EU without a withdrawal deal. In fact, it was the UK government that said this.
Image: Rough diamonds. (Shutterstock)