This week, a delegation of NAMDIA representatives visited Antwerp and was welcomed by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre. NAMDIA’s General Manager, Lelly Usiku and Company Secretary Marvel Tjombonde paid a visit to the pinnacle of Antwerp’s billion-dollar operations, the import and export authority Diamond Office, as well as AWDC’s in-house tender facility. The focus of AWDC’s presentation to the delegation was to demonstrate how Antwerp is the single most controlled diamond trade hub with the implementation of the highest standards of due diligence and compliance. Mrs Usiku and Tjombonde witnessed how independent, sworn experts, assigned by and under the supervision of government officials physically inspect each shipment that passes through the Diamond Office, on average, some 550 shipments worth between US$150m-200m per day. “The independent controls on documented origin, classification, weight and value are a key component of Antwerp’s focus on creating full transparency and accountability, which is an asset to miners and producing countries’ governments”, Karen Rentmeesters, Senior Manager Communications and Industry Relations explains. “Antwerp is the only center in the world that applies these rigorous controls, and they leave no room for malpractices such as undervaluation of goods”.
At the Antwerp Tender Facility, an in-house tender venue that AWDC rents out to specialists as well as governments seeking to market their diamonds, the NAMDIA Delegation saw the buzz at South African based tender specialist First Element’s tender, which had to be extended in order to accommodate over 160 interested companies that week. “The beauty of working in Antwerp, is that whatever you are selling, you will always find a buyer in Antwerp, and you will get the best market value for your rough”, Edward Wilkes of First Element told the delegation Despite technological developments such as scans and mappings, buying rough diamonds remains a matter where buyers want to physically inspect the goods in person, to assess the potential of individual stones and parcels, before making an online bid.
NAMDIA, authorized to sell 15% of rough production from the Namibian government and De Beers joint venture Namdeb, is under increased scrutiny as allegations of opaque business practices and undervalued selling of its rough diamonds are mounting. While Antwerp is the preferred place for miners and producers to sell their rough, with over 86% of all rough diamonds traded in the city, especially run-of-mine and original productions that enter the market for the first time, very few NAMDIA goods are sold directly via Antwerp. “Less than 1% of NAMDIA goods reach Antwerp directly”, says Rentmeesters, “During this visit, AWDC has reiterated its offer to NAMDIA to work together more closely, and for example host a trial, dual viewing tender, held both in Antwerp and Windhoek. This would tie in perfectly with NAMDIA’s mandate to gauge the market and maximize the value of its rough in full transparency and accountability.”