The coronavirus is creating havoc to public life and economic markets across the globe, but its rapid growth in Iran has countries across the Gulf region becoming increasingly concerned. Multiple media outlets are reporting that the United Arab Emirates has called on residents to avoid cross-border travel and has imposed quarantine restrictions to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus, a measure the Financial Times is calling it “a blow to the state’s position as a global business hub.”
In its latest report, Canada-based NGO IMPACT claims India has become the world’s hotspot for conflict gold originating from Africa and South America. According to IMPACT, the country imports roughly a 1,000 tonnes of gold per year, 25% more than the official figures state.
In their research, IMPACT says it has revealed how illicit gold, potentially linked to conflict, human rights abuses and corruption, is smuggled into India – one third of the world’s gold passes through the country – primarily via the United Arab Emirates.
Billions of dollars’ worth of gold is being smuggled out of Africa every year through the United Arab Emirates, a Reuters analysis has found. In a devastating exclusive report (and video), authors David Lewis, Ryan McNeill and Zandi Shabalala write that customs data shows the UAE imported $15.1 billion worth of gold from Africa in 2016, more than any other country and up from $1.3 billion in 2006, but much of the gold was not recorded in the exports of African states.
European Union finance ministers have agreed to add 10 countries to a blacklist of alleged tax havens, including the United Arab Emirates. According to Bloomberg, the agreement means the list will now have 15 jurisdictions, triple the number of what it had before the review. It comes just over a year after the EU agreed to “name and shame” a small number of nations as part of its efforts to fight opaque practices that facilitate tax avoidance by multinationals and individuals.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Cabinet has announced that it is reversing the 5 percent value added tax (VAT) for investors in gold, diamond and precious metals at the wholesale level. Doing so will “contribute to stabilising the gold and diamond sector in the UAE as well as stimulating investment in this sector”, a statement said following the Cabinet decision. The move, which goes into effect immediately, is expected to ease the pressure on gold and diamond traders in the country. Retailers will continue to impose 5 percent on all jewelry transactions taking place at their shops.
With the Antwerp diamond industry facing a host of challenges, and developing multiple initiatives, when it comes to financing, it appears that one bank recognizes an opportunity. Avi Krawitz of Rapaport News today reported that the National Bank of Fujairah (NBF) from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is planning to open a representative office in Antwerp. Davy Blommaert, head of diamond lending at NBF, told Rapaport News on the sidelines of the Dubai Diamond Conference, “I’ve been pushing for the move for a long time because there’s an opportunity to cherry-pick some clients.”
We endorse the need for an ‘on-the-ground’ approach in countries which have been subject to sanctions.
Controversy is brewing in Namibia about who is selling their diamonds to whom, for how much, and whether the country is obtaining fair value from its precious resources. The Namibian newspaper previously raised concerns that a new government independent sales company called Namib Desert Diamonds (Namdia), which is designated to sell stones worth over an estimated US$150 million (N$2.1 billion) per year as stipulated by a 10-year agreement
The Kimberley Process (KP) Plenary held in UAE this week concluded with the announcement that that it has appointed the European Union as its Chair for 2018. The EU will assume responsibility as KP Vice Chair in 2017 with Australia as Chair, and India will be the Vice Chair in 2018 when EU becomes the organisation’s Chair. Consequently, in 2019 India will become the KP Chair.
As the 2016 Kimberley Process Plenary comes to a close, the World Diamond Council (WDC) and its president Andrey Polyakov applaud the positive steps taken in 2016, the initiatives undertaken by KP Chair UAE during the plenary itself, and look forward to the continued success of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme under the leadership of the new KP Chair, Australia.
Earlier this week, Kimberley Process (KP) chair Ahmed Bin Sulayem issued a press release extending an, "Invitation to Civil Society to Attend [KP] Plenary", [civil society = NGOs] and also shared with the CSC a document providing an in-depth response addressing previous issues and concerns raised by the CSC at the beginning of the UAE KP Chairmanship ("Proposal for a Remediation Between the 2016 KP Chair and the Members of the Civil Society Coalition").
"On concluding the second ‘Africa Dubai Precious Metals Forum’ in Accra, KP Chair Ahmed Bin Sulayem met with H.E. President John Dramani Mahama to discuss Kimberley Process matters and to share the KP Chair Mid-Term Report," writes Emirates 24/7 News. Ghana is a full KP member, has the 11th largest reserves of diamonds in the world and is the 14th largest producer in Africa.
According to figures recently relased by the Kimberley Process, 2015 global rough diamond production fell 4.2% in value to $13.88 billion even as the volume of output increased 2.1% to 127.4 million carats. Accordingly, the average value of production fell 6.2% from $116.17 to $108.96 per carat. Russia widened its lead over Botswana as the largest producer of rough diamonds in terms of volume and value. Russia’s increased its 2015 production 9.4% to 41.9 million carats, good for a 14% increase in value to $4.24 billion.
Kimberley Process Chair Ahmed Bin Sulayem has visited the Central African Republic (CAR) where he met President Faustin-Archange Touadera and Mines Minister Leopold Mboli Fratran. CAR resumed exports of rough diamonds earlier this month after a three-year ban when an internecine war broke out with both sides accused of using diamonds to fund their activities. Mining was is due to resume once other zones in the western part of the country are declared compliant.
India's Enforcement Directorate (ED) has requested information from authorities in the United Arab Emirates relating to the Winsome Group. Winsome Diamonds and Jewellery owes in excess of $1 billion to a group of banks. In addition to the ED which is looking into money laundering allegations, India's Central Bureau of Investigation is investigating several people connected with Winsome, The Economic Times of India reports.
Award-winning news director of JCK Rob Bates, in his opinion piece "Why the NGOs and Dubai Still Can’t Get Along", addresses the persistent conflict between Kimberley Process (KP) chair UAE and the KP civil society coalition - the group of 11 human rights groups that participate in the KP - that is threatening to turn the upcoming KP interessional meetings into a failure: "the recent turn of events looks like we are in for another year of stagnation and animosity, and the scheme will once again fail to make needed improvements, despite the UAE’s promises last year of a fruitful, pr
Statistics Botswana reports that Botswana's overall diamond exports rose 29% in February year-on-year compared to 2015, yet its exports worth $493M fell more than 10% from January when it exported more than $550M. Meanwhile, diamond imports fell nearly 21% in February 2016 to $220M compared to $277M in 2015, though they spiked more than 60% over January imports. Statistics Botswana said this increase was due to high value of diamond imports for aggregation.
The Kimberley Process has sent an announcement warning its members of yet another fake KP certificate from Sierra Leone, the second in two weeks. The Focal Point of the United Arab Emirates reports that the UAE KP Office was contacted by a client prior to the import of a shipment to check the authenticity of a scanned copy of a KP Certificate from Sierra Leone. The UAE KP Office contacted Sierra Leone who confirmed via email that the attached copy is a false certificate.
A copy of the fake certificate is in annex.
The United Arab Emirates received a shipment from Cameroon, which was declared to the UAE Customs. Upon inspection they noticed that the KP Certificate accompanying the shipment was fake. Cameroon authorities confirmed this. The document was uploaded on the restricted side of the KP website as well. The KP has therefore called on all its members to be vigilant regarding shipments of rough diamonds accompanied by a Cameroon KP certificate.
An UAE-sponsored initiative aimed at standardising pricing mechanisms for the rough diamond trade is due to be launched later this year under the country’s chairmanship of the Kimberley Process, reports UAE daily The National. Some may view this move as ironic, as it comes in response to criticism of trade and transfer mispricing practices within the diamond trade, which NGOs claim has deprived diamond producer states of crucial tax revenue - and UAE is considered the main practitioner of transfer pricing.
News director of JCK Rob Bates outlines how a report in UAE newpaper The National, based on comments by Kimberley Process chair Ahmed bin Sulayem, wrongfully reported that diamond exports from the Central African Republic will soon resume thanks to, it claims, a deal brokered by Ahmed bin Sulayem.
Pending a positive recommendation by the Kimberley Process (KP) monitoring team - consisting of representatives of the various KP working groups and civil society - after consideration of the results of their review visit to the Central African Republic (CAR), the resumption of rough diamond exports from CAR is looking increasingly possible.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have urged their citizens to leave Lebanon or avoid travelling there. The UAE also banned its citizens from travelling to Lebanon and reduced its diplomatic presence in Beirut. Bahrain also urged citizens against travelling to Lebanon, and called on Bahrainis there already to leave quickly, according to a statement posted to state news. The move on Tuesday came after Riyadh halted $4bn in aid to Lebanese security forces in response to "hostile" positions linked to Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah.
The UAE is also making efforts to have Partnership Africa Canada rejoin the process after civil society groups withdrew from the KP in protest at the UAE's election as 2016 Chair, Dubai Diamond Exchange Chairman Peter Meeus tells IDEX Online. "Their non-participation in the Kimberley Process in 2016 under UAE’s chairmanship is a source of deep regret. We have now reached the point where the World Diamond Council (WDC) has agreed to mediate the matter between the two sides.
The National reports that UAE is ready to back a bid by Venezuela to return to the international diamond trading community, said Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, after a series of meetings in the country. Mr bin Sulayem is the new chairman of the Kimberley Process (KP), the regulatory regime for the global diamond trade. Venezuela, rich in the gems but facing a financial meltdown as a result of low oil prices, wants to resume diamond trading after a seven-year halt.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre has published the January import and export figures for the Belgian diamond industry, which show that rough exports surged 30% in volume to 8.76m carats compared to January 2015, yet still fell 6.72% in value to $792m (vs. $850m in Jan. 2015). This indicates that manufacturers are mainly replenishing smaller goods. Nevertheless, this result significantly bucks the overall 2015 trend that saw annual rough exports fall 16% in volume and 26.5% in value across the entire year.
Kimberley Process Chair Ahmed Bin Sulayem has warned of the ongoing difficulties facing the global diamond industry and expressed the UAE's commitment to act responsibly to overcome challenges. “2016 will be a challenging year for our industry with continuing oversupply, low commodity prices and tightening liquidity," said Bin Sulayem. "The social impact of these combining factors is likely to be severe and felt across large parts of the world's diamond producing regions.”
UAE's Ministry of Economy (MoE), and the Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support and enhance cooperation and coordination between the two sides concerning the supervision of imports, exports and transit of rough diamonds to and from the country, in line with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) on the international trade of rough diamonds and in accordance with European Union Law. The MoU is part of joints efforts by the MoE and DMCC to ensure optimal implementation of the KPCS, under which official certificates are issue
The National Bank of Fujairah (NBF) has opened a diamond financing office in the Almas Tower, part of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre. The opening follows the establishment of a specialized diamond financing team in April this year focused on financing manufacturers and traders of rough and polished goods. According to a report in Emirates24/7, the unit brings in industry expert in order to provide a range of trade finance products tailored to client needs.
Ahmed bin Sulayem, the chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, has been appointed by the UAE's Ministry of Economy as the chairman of the Kimberley Process which the UAE will chair in 2016. “The UAE will use this opportunity to focus on areas that will have the greatest impact on growth and development, in addition to sustaining the core values of the organization,” he told The National. He added that he would have an “open door” for organizations that have threatened to boycott the KP proceedings in Dubai.
Vinod Kuriyan, Chief Editor of GEMKonnect, in response to the Civil Society Coalition's announcement that they will boycott the Kimberley Process in 2016 due to dissastifaction with U.A.E.'s chairmanship, writes that it is high time for the KP to reconnect with civil society.
And it lay on my fever'd spirit with a touch of infinite calm.
It quieted pain and sorrow like love overcoming strife,
It seem'd the harmonious echo from our discordant life.
This week's Kimberley Process Plenary in Angola has not been without its share of controversy, with civil society announcing that it will not participate in a UAE-led KP in 2016 and World Diamond Council (WDC) President Edward Asscher welcoming the criticism (when justified) as well as participation of the NGOs.
Yesterday, the Civil Society Coalition announced at the KP Plenary meeting in Angola that it will boycott the KP next year in protest at the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) 2016 chairmanship due to, "widespread concerns over UAE's lenient standards and antagonistic relationship with the Coalition." Partnership Africa Canada 's (PAC) Director of Research, Alan Martin, said: "We have been calling on Dubai to change its harmful diamond trading practices.
Civil society members of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) will boycott the organization next year in protest at the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) chairmanship of the international body that combats conflict diamonds. The 11 members of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition say the UAE's chairmanship crosses a red line due to "widespread concerns over UAE's lenient standards and antagonistic relationship with the Coalition," according to a statement from Partnership Africa Canada (PAC).
The Eden of Coronet guitar, estimated to be worth $2 million and the world’s most expensive guitar, has gone on display in Abu Dhabi. The musical instrument has been officially named the ‘Most Valuable Guitar’ by the Guinness World Records and is set with 11,441 diamonds and 1.6kg of 18K white gold. The guitar was created in collaboration with UAE-based Lifestyle Fine Jewelry’s parent company, Aaron Shum Jewelry, and designer and songwriter Mark Lui using a Gibson guitar.
KP Chair Bernardo Campos said that Angola managed to put an end to the ban on of the diamonds from Central Africa Republic, settled the KP vice chair issue between Australia and the United Arab Emirates, and bring Venezuela back into the organization after an absence of six years.
The United Arab Emirates mourn the death of Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, who died on Saturday morning of a heart attack at age 33. Sheikh Rashid was born in Dubai and educated at the Rashid School for Boys, then attended Sandhurst Military Academy in the UK, graduating from there in 2002. He was an active member of Dubai Cares philanthropic organisation and a well-known sports figure.
The UAE has been formally announced as the Kimberley Process vice-chair, meaning it will assume the lead in 2016. UAE will become the 14th country to take on the annual role since the body’s foundation in 2003, and is the first Arab country to become the KP vice-chair. “[We plan] to work together on the growth and reach of the Kimberley Process while consolidating the achievements of the past 12 years – bringing to an end the flow of conflict diamonds globally,” said Ahmed bin Sulayem, the executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC).
Apparently the economic slowdown is not slowing everyone's spending down. Business Insider Australia writes that, "Just a short flight away from 11 million people fleeing their homes with nothing, a proud father in the UAE took delivery of a cake set with 4,000 diamonds for his daughter’s birthday and engagement party." The cake includes: 400 one-carat white diamonds, 73 three-carat white diamonds, 73 three-carat black diamonds, one 5.2-carat pink diamond, one 6.4-carat yellow diamond and 15 five-carat white diamonds ... worth a total of $65 million.
The jewelry group in qustion has been identified as Atlas Jewellery and the missing owner as Indian businessman Atlas Ramachandran. Ramachandran and his daughter Manju have been reportedly arrested by Dubai police after a number of banks lodged complaints over bounced cheques.