Martin Rapaport Sends Sparks Flying at GJEPC’s “Mines to Market" Conference

Opinion piece
21/03/2017 11:24

"Martin Rapaport, chairman of the Rapaport Group, called on India to show reciprocity in its trade relationship with the United States," writes eponymous Rapaport News of their founder's “State of Diamond Industry” presentation at GJEPC's "Mines to Market" conference yesterday, marking 50 years of India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council. The manner in which he did so, however, clearly angered a reporter at DiamondWorld.net, who writes, "Martin Rapaport’s presentation at the Mines to Market conference was divisive, belligerent and inaccurate at best." He says that it was, "tactless and insulting to the Indian diamond industry," adding that it was, "offensive and demeaning" for good measure. 

According to Rapaport News' version of the presentation, Mr. Rapaport said, “America is and will be India’s most important market. American demand will grow significantly due to new economic policies, and the U.S. government will insist on a level playing field.” They write that, "The U.S. imported $3.8 billion worth of diamonds more from India than it exported to the country in 2015, making India a net beneficiary in the partnership. Yet India does not reciprocate by offering competitive import tax rates, Rapaport argued." They then quote Mr. Rapaport as saying, "We’re calling for a U.S.-India bilateral trade agreement with zero import taxes for diamonds, gems and jewelry. Reciprocity means equal import taxes at U.S. and Indian borders, or – even better – zero percent at both.” He also reportedly called on the Indian diamond trade to sharpen its focus on transparency and traceability of supply, and questioned the practices of the Kimberley Process, raising suspicion about why rough diamonds are leaving the United Arab Emirates at a significantly higher value than when they enter the country. The 40-percent increase in price “sticks out like a sore thumb,” he said.

Meanwhile, DiamondWorld concurs that Rapaport, "began by saying how greatly India is dependent on the US and how much it needs America more than anything else." However they say that, "His presentation and manner of speaking was extremely demeaning, aggressive and insulting to Indians", quoting him as saying, “Indian industries are suckers, they manipulate profits." He also mentioned that the net rough exports in the UAE are only because of India. DiamondWorld continues, saying of Rapaport, "He continued with his vindictive presentation by accusing Indian businessmen of malpractices. He insinuated that Indians support illegal activities which are eventually funding terrorism and that President Trump will not stand for such things." Apparently he extended his criticism to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “His statement of making India a global trading hub is bullshit,” they quote.

DiamondWolrd concludes that, "The audience and industry people were infuriated by these remarks. Anoop Mehta, President, [Bharat Diamond Bourse] condemned the way Rapaport spoke on the dais and guaranteed that the Indian diamond industry is fully compliant with the laws. He rejected all his allegations and said that all the rough diamonds that come to India are strictly checked at the Indian customs and that there is absolutely no room for error. “If 2 pc companies are indulging in wrong practices, doesn’t mean 98 pc of them are doing the same,” he said."