January 7, 1999
Diamond Exports Down in Israel
Israel's diamond exports fell 11.4% over the past year, the sharpest decline in the industry's history.
The slack demand from Asia left the Israeli industry with enormous stockpiles of rough diamonds and declining profitability, Industry and Trade Ministry spokesman Udi Shintal told Reuters.
Despite the record decline, Shintal said the industry as a whole remained on sound financial footing.
De Beers' policy of curtailing rough supply, which caused Israel's imports of rough to fall 28%, helped the situation. Experts predict this will firm up prices and restore some lost profitability.
Partly offsetting the decline of exports to Asia was an increase in exports to the U.S. market, which took 61% of Israel's diamond exports in 1998, up from 50% in 1997 and 44% in 1996.
- by Robert Weldon, G.G.