In the third quarter of 2019, Israel's imports and exports of all diamonds plummeted 28% compared to the same time last year, writes the Times of Israel following Ynet (Hebrew-language publication). Since the start of 2019, Israel’s diamond industry has seen a 22 percent drop in exports of polished diamonds, which Israeli spokespeople say is likely due to the global economic slowdown and international trade concerns.
Exports of diamonds in the first three quarters of 2019 stood at $2.62 billion, down from $3.32 billion during the same period last year. “There is a global crisis. The government needs to help out the industry," said Yoram Dvash, president of the Israel Diamond Exchange, to Ynet. "Trump’s trade war with China and the Hong Kong protests really influence the industry. Hong Kong accounts for about 30% of our exports. The Hong Kong government said that in recent times the sector that’s been damaged the most there has been the jewelry industry.” Hong Kong jewelry chains sell billions of dollars of goods a year, mostly to middle and upper class Chinese looking for cheaper deals than they can find in mainland China, Dvash told the news outlet.
“Right now the Chinese government isn’t granting visas to Chinese to go to Hong Kong in order to put pressure on businesspeople there and hurt the economy. It’s paralyzing the number 2 diamond market in the world,” Dvash said. Another official from the diamond exchange reportedly told Ynet that a credit crisis involving several large Indian diamond companies had impacted the global industry, and he strangely referred to the global discourse around conflict diamonds as playing a part in the decline.