EU wants to restrict Russian diamond trade

Diplomats had reported that the G7 group wants to limit exports of rough diamonds from Russia. EU Council President Charles Michel confirms – and lets himself be carried away to a joke.

EU Council President Charles Michel.

EU Council President Charles Michel.Yuichi Yamazaki/AFP

EU Council President Charles Michel has confirmed plans for sanctions against Russia’s diamond economy. “We will restrict trade in Russian diamonds,” said the Belgian on Friday morning (local time) at a press conference on the sidelines of the G7 summit of the leading democratic industrialized nations in Japan. Referring to the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, he added: “Russian diamonds are not forever.”

Diplomats had already reported the day before that the G7 group wants to restrict the export of rough diamonds from Russia, which is worth billions. A corresponding declaration is to be decided at the summit in Hiroshima, Japan. The measure is another response to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

Russia is the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds

According to information from G7 circles, the aim is to reduce income from the sale of rough diamonds through coordinated measures. The aim is to ensure that gemstones traded via countries such as India and the United Arab Emirates can still be identified as Russian diamonds after they have been resold. In the EU, the trade in Russian diamonds has already fallen by around 80 percent as a result of voluntary commitments, it said.

Michel said Friday it was important to work on an efficient tracking system. The challenge is to ensure that the sanctions are painful for Russia and not for yourself.

Russia is the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds. The trade in gemstones is an important industry for the country and a significant source of income. In 2021, the last year in which the state-owned diamond promoter Alrosa disclosed its figures, the company generated 332 billion rubles (around 4 billion euros) in revenue.

So far, however, the EU has not restricted trade. One of the reasons has so far been resistance from Belgium. The Flemish port city of Antwerp has been considered the diamond center of the world since the 16th century.

When asked on Friday whether Belgium had signaled that it would agree to an import ban, Michel did not reply. “I don’t want to speak on behalf of the Belgian government,” he said.

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