Israel to get rough diamonds from Russia

Ben-Eliezer in Moscow with delegation this week to drum up business.

By SHARON WROBEL
March 23, 2010 23:22
2 minute read.
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-El

ben eliezer 311. (photo credit: Eli Neeman)

Russian diamond-mining monopoly Alrosa on Tuesday agreed to supply Israel with $300 million worth of rough diamonds.

“The direct supply of rough diamonds to Israel will strengthen our status as a global manufacturing center, as well as a trading center,” said Yair Cohen, general manager of the Israel Diamond Exchange. “It will enhance the economic ability of the local diamond industry to polish diamonds and thereby boost Israel’s operations and trading activity worldwide.”

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The agreement with Alrosa was struck at the request of Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who is heading a business delegation in Russia this week. He has already met with officials from Alrosa and diamond agency Gokhran.

The supply will be provided through Alrosa’s sales office at the Israel Diamond Exchange in Ramat Gan, which was opened eight years ago.

Also attending the meeting with Alrosa were Israel Diamond Exchange president Avi Paz, Diamond Manufacturers Association deputy president David De Toledo, Israel Diamond Exchange vice president Yair Sahar, Israel Diamond Exchange members Shalom Papir and Yosef Papo, and Diamond Manufacturers Association CEO Udi Sheintal.

At the meeting, Ben-Eliezer referred to the Israeli diamond industry as “an export engine” and a major contributor to the country’s economy.

Participating in the business delegation to Russia are MK Anastasia Michaeli (Israel Beiteinu), Ambassador to Russia Anna Azari, Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry director-general Sharon Kedmi, Manufacturers Association of Israel president Shraga Brosh, Diamond Controller Shmuel Mordechai and Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry director-general for foreign trade Boaz Hirsch.

The Israeli diamond industry’s trade amounts to about $10 billion in exports annually and $4.5b. in rough-diamond imports, according to the ministry.

Israel’s rough-diamond trading crisis in 2009 reached a peak in December. After a plunge of more than 76 percent in the first quarter of last year, Israel’s imports and exports more than doubled year-over-year in the last month of 2009.

In February, net exports of rough diamonds rose to $244.2 million, jumping 201.5% year-over-year, according to figures by the Central Bureau of Statistics. Total exports of rough and polished diamonds increased by 72% to $681.1m. in February compared with the same month last year. In the first two months of the year, exports of rough diamonds rose by 209% to $547.4m. year-over-year.

Ben-Eliezer and Russian Industry and Energy Minister Victor Khristenko signed a research and development cooperation agreement in Moscow on Monday. They hope to boost trade relations between their countries’ companies in all business sectors, including technology and agriculture.


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