COVID Halves Antwerp H1 Trade, Rough Underscores Hub’s Resilience

Finance and Trade
19/08/2020 08:54

Figures released by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre on the first six months of the year indicate that in terms of value, trade in the world’s diamond trade hub halved as a consequence of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global diamond and jewelry business.

Imports of rough to Antwerp amounted to 37.4 million carats or US$ 3.1 billion, down 18% and 36% in volume and value respectively compared to the first half of 2019. Rough exports were down 52% in volume and 55% in value, or 29 million carats and US$ 2.6 billion in value, largely due to the fact India has remained closed for business due to the pandemic and an ongoing rough import moratorium. In the past months, a significant number of successful rough tenders took place in Antwerp, among others from Rio Tinto, Grib and First Element, while India partially resumed polishing activities, demonstrating cautious signs of demand recovering. According to recent figures from GJEPC, India’s imports of rough fell 84% in the period between April and July, declining to US$712 million compared to US$ 4 billion year-on-year, while polished exports declined 47%.

Exports of polished diamonds fell 47% to 1.4 million carats, equaling US$3 billion, while polished imports fell 46% to 1.8 million carats, valued US$3 billion. Especially polished exports and imports to and from India, Hong Kong and Switzerland took a hit, as the pandemic brought the diamond industry and the trade shows to a grinding halt.

At the peak of the pandemic and global lockdowns, in April, the trade in Antwerp fell to barely 4%, but has been climbing up steadily ever since.