Diamond dealers look to the east
Hong Kong has become a major export destination for the Israeli diamond industry, which is turning its attention to Asian markets, according to Michal Gordon-Keret, managing director of Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) Asia-Pacific, which provides information and contacts for Israeli diamond companies.
The Israeli diamond industry, a major player in the global diamond sector, is one of the most important industries in Israel, accounting for more than 20 per cent of the country's industrial exports and employs 20,000 people inside the country, plus 30,000 abroad.
Gordon-Keret says last year was an excellent year for the Israeli diamond industry, with total turnover of US$28 billion. The export of polished diamonds amounted to US$7.2 billion last year, exceeding the previous high in 2007 before the beginning of the world economic crisis.
She says as Asian economies grow, Israel's diamond industry is shifting its focus from the traditional markets of the United States and Europe to the region. Hong Kong, as the most important gateway to the mainland, accounted for 26 per cent of Israel's polished exports last year, or US$1.9 billion. As the market grows, increasing numbers of Israeli companies are establishing a presence in Hong Kong. According to Gordon-Keret, six Israeli companies opened offices in Hong Kong last year, and one has opened this year. On the mainland, 45 Israeli companies have joined the Shanghai Diamond Exchange, and some are in the process of joining and others are expanding opening offices.
She says there is also strong growth potential from other destinations in Asia. 'We are now beginning to see new markets opening up in Asia for Israeli diamonds. These include Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan. While trade with these regions may not yet be so large in terms of volume, we see potential for a flourishing future.'