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2 Apr, 2024 13:45

India seeking to block Russian diamond ban – FM

The Asian country is trying to “delay or prevent” the embargo imposed by the EU and G7 last month, according to Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
India seeking to block Russian diamond ban – FM

India’s diamond industry will feel the impact of new Western sanctions imposed on Russian exports of precious stones, Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has said.

A direct EU and G7 ban on Russian diamonds came into force in January, and was followed by phased-in restrictions on indirect imports via third states starting on March 1.

“Our effort is to delay [this ban], soften it, and best of all, not let this happen at all. For us, this has become a priority issue, and we will try to find out a solution in coming days,” Jaishankar stated while visiting the Indian diamond processing hub of Surat, as cited by the Economic Times.

The comments came in response to a question on how the ban would affect local diamond cutters. About 90% of the world’s rough diamonds are cut and polished in Surat, also known as ‘Diamond City’, before they enter international markets.

Jaishankar noted that the ban was initially intended to target Russia, the world’s biggest producer of rough diamonds by volume, over Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine. However, he stressed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue with heads of state, including from Belgium, that are also being hit by the restrictions.

“We are holding discussions collectively and on a bilateral basis over the issue,” Jaishankar said. “Only a few days ago, PM Modi talked to the Belgian Prime Minister (Alexander De Croo), and our (Union Commerce) Minister Piyush Goyal is going to follow up on this in the next few days.”

In December, Reuters cited sources as saying that the Indian authorities had urged the Group of Seven (G7) countries to delay the ban, arguing that the rules to trace the origins of gems remained unclear. New Delhi also reportedly expressed its reservations over the G7’s “traceability-based verification and certification” system that may require data sharing about Indian businesses.

Russia views the ban as evidence that Western countries have largely exhausted areas where they can still sanction the country. Moscow has already redirected most of its diamond trade to the markets of China, India, the UAE, Armenia, and Belarus, which all saw a sharp increase in rough and cut stone imports from the country in 2023.