India’s rough diamond imports fall sharply in 2019 over liquidity crunch

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Liquidity crunch due to financing cuts by banks leading to cutters and polishers reducing purchases has resulted in India experiencing the steepest decline in net rough diamond imports sharply in 2019 so far.

According to the data from the Gem and Jewellary Exports Promotion Council, the overall gross import of rough diamonds between April to November 2019 has shown a decline 17.24 per cent to $8.55 billion from $ 10.34 billion registered during April to November 2018. This is one of sharpest fall in import of diamond in India in last one decade. According to the report by Bain & Consulting, net import was down by 32 per cent.

On the other hand, cut and polished diamond (CPD) exports between April and November 2019 fell by 18.96 per cent to $13.41 billion, from $16.55 billion during April to November 2019. In November 2019 alone, CPD exports from India declined by 25.18 per cent to $1.66 billion as compared to $ 1.56 billion in November 2018.

According to the latest Bain & Consulting report on the global diamond industry in 2019, weakened local currency, liquidity issues resulting from bank financing cuts, and ongoing effects of demonetisation contributed to stockpiling of incoming goods in India.

“The combination of lower polished diamond sales and excess inventory accumulated by the midstream in 2017 and 2018 reduced net imports by 3 per cent and 30 per cent in 2018 and 2019, respectively. India experienced the steepest decline,” the report states. As against an estimated five per cent decline in net rough diamond imports by China over the previous year, in India, net imports of rough diamonds decreased three per cent in 2018 and 32 per cent in the first eight months of 2019.

Yet, India continues to dominate the cutting and polishing industry with a 90 per cent net import of rough diamonds globally as compared to five per cent by China and another five per cent by rest of the world.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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