EU to 'restrict' Russian diamond trade

EU to 'restrict' Russian diamond trade
Credit: Belga / Luc Claessen

The European Union confirmed on Friday it will “restrict trade in Russian diamonds” in the context of sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

European Council President Charles Michel announced the move during a press conference at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan.

“We are now focused on closing the loopholes and continuing to cut Russia off from critical supplies,” Michel said. “We are going to restrict trade in Russian diamonds. Russian diamonds are not forever.”

Earlier in the evening, the UK also announced a ban on imports of Russian diamonds.

European Council President Charles Michel. Credit: Belga

Russian diamond exports brought Moscow $4 billion (€3.7 billion) in 2021, with Belgium as one of its biggest importers, along with the United Arab Emirates and India.

Antwerp jewel of diamond trade

Antwerp is the main centre of the diamond trade in Europe.

Out of all the world’s diamonds, 85% of rough diamonds, half of polished diamonds and 40% of industrial diamonds pass through the port city. Almost a third of the diamonds for the Antwerp trade come from Russia.

So far, the diamond industry has always managed to stay clear of EU sanctions packages after the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has invariably stated that Belgium would not oppose a unanimous import ban.

However, he did warn that sanctions should be tailor-made, otherwise trade could simply move to India and Russia, with Antwerp potentially losing its crown jewel.

On Wednesday, another resolution for an import ban on Russian diamonds was unanimously approved in the Chamber plenary.

Charles Michel still said at his press conference that the EU continues to work hard “to give Ukraine what it needs”.

“More arms, more ammunition, and all of it faster. That will be crucial for the counter-offensive. We have been on the side of the Ukrainian people since day one and will continue to do so as long as it is necessary,” Michel said.

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