Representatives from the Antwerp diamond industry were on board today for Brussels Airlines' first official direct flight from Brussels to Mumbai, where HRD Antwerp diamond certification lab is opening its new, expanded offices and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre is holding an information session for the Indian banking sector. The diamond delegation is participating in a Belgian economic mission to India spearheaded by Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Pieter De Crem. The diamond trade is the most important component of trade between Belgium and India, representing nearly 80% of all Belgian exports to India (71 million carats rough diamonds worth $7.4 billion in 2016) and more than 40% of all imports from India. The market share for Antwerp diamonds imported by India increased by 7% last year.
The strong trade relations between Antwerp and India led HRD Antwerp polished diamond grading and certification lab to open a Mumbai branch in 2012. This enabled them to provide faster and more convenient service to Indian diamond companies. Edith Castus, Head of Marketing & Communication at HRD Antwerp: "Due to the success of our Indian branch, last month we moved to a larger office. In just a few years' time we have increased our staff in Mumbai from 30 to 78 employees, and this will likely increase in the coming years." Secretary of State De Crem was on hand to celebrate the opening.
Meanwhile, the AWDC took the opportunity to invite several Indian banks for a discussion about finance. This was organized in cooperation with Swift, a Belgian-based organization specialized in financial transactions. "The objective of the info session was to show the Indian banks what initiatives the Antwerp diamond industry is pursuing with regard to financial developments", says AWDC CEO Ari Epstein. "Several Indian banks currently have offices in Belgium, including State Bank of India, Union Bank of India, Bank of India and ICICI. They have expressed their interest in offering even more services in Antwerp."