Angola is seeking stronger ties with Antwerp World Diamond Center as the country looks to improve the profitability and transparency of its diamond sector.
According to its president, João Lourenço, Angola has failed to benefit sufficiently from its diamond resources due to government policies. The president has since vowed to reform the industry.
Reuters reported Monday that Catoca, the country’s largest diamond mine, has lost $464 million over the past six years because producers were only able to sell goods through Sodiam, the state-owned trading company.
That policy has restricted miners’ revenues, as Sodiam could choose to whom it sold diamonds, often resulting in politically connected buyers obtaining goods at below-market prices, Reuters said.
Engaging in trade with Antwerp could present an opportunity to create value, according to Nishit Bali Parikh, president of AWDC.
The Belgian city has a track record of generating a 15% premium for producers that export their goods directly to the hub rather than shipping them elsewhere, Parikh said in a speech during Lourenço’s visit to Antwerp last week.
“It has been said that Angola has been absent from Antwerp, but that is set to change,” Lourenço said while meeting AWDC officials. “We are going to be represented in Antwerp, and will work together in partnership. The responsible institutions have been instructed to see that Angola can return to this great diamond center.”
Antwerp is the first diamond trading center Lourenço has visited as president, the AWDC claimed. Angola’s transformation would involve both increasing rough production and creating more employment through local processing and polishing, Lourenço added.
Angola currently only exports 1% of its rough diamonds directly to Antwerp, but some 50% end up in the city, Parikh noted. The African nation ships 70% of its diamonds to the United Arab Emirates, according to Reuters.
Lourenço has embarked on a reform agenda since taking over from José Eduardo dos Santos, whose controversial rule lasted 38 years. Through those changes, the nation hopes to attract more foreign diamond miners.
Source: Diamond Net