Diamond Trade in Israel Slows During 2016

Ramat Gan: Israel’s polished diamond exports declined in 2016 even as sentiment improved in December.

Outbound shipments of polished dropped 6.4 percent to $4.68 billion during the year, the nation’s Ministry of Economy and Industry reported. Exports to the U.S., its largest trade partner, slid 9 percent to $2 billion, while shipments to Hong Kong fell 8 percent to $1.35 billion. Orders from Belgium slumped 16 percent to $349 million.

Polished imports fell 6 percent to $3.28 billion. Net polished exports, representing exports minus imports, fell 8 percent to $1.39 billion.

While the downward trend and slowing of trading activity continued for most of 2016, the first signs of recovery appeared toward the end of the year, said Shmuel Mordechai, Israel’s diamond controller. The industry’s agreement with the Israel Tax Authority in December helped improve sentiment, he added.

Rough trading showed a more positive trend, with imports rising 17 percent to $3.25 billion. Rough exports jumped 23 percent to $2.7 billion, leaving net rough imports 7 percent lower at $544 million.

Israel’s net diamond account, the difference between net imports of rough and net exports of polished, declined 8 percent to $849 million for the year.