Indian community in Antwerp gains control over HRD

May 15, 2006

Indian community in Antwerp gains control over HRD

London: The Indian diamond community in Antwerp, Belgium has gained control over the trade's main governing body, the Diamond High Council.

Diamond traders from India won five out of the six seats on the board of the Hoge Raa Voor Diamant (HRD), the group that regulates and represents the diamond sector in the rough diamond capital of Antwerp, according to the "India News in Europe Programme".

Around 500 Indian families, many of them originating in the Gujarat town area, in the Palanpur region are heavily involved in the diamond trade in Antwerp. They arrived in the port city in the 1970s, absorbed technical diamond manufacturing skills, and helped continue the exportation of the diamond trade around the world.

Today, Indians control 60 percent of Antwerp's rough and polished diamonds, worth an estimated $36 billion in 2006. This represents a significant shift in the control of the world diamond business from other ethnic groups.

In spite of their global economic dominance, the Indian community had been severely under-represented in the HRD, the umbrella organization created in 1973.

The HRD governs and represents Antwerp's diamond trade with the mandate of 13 different organizations, representing diverse elements of the diamond trade.

The General Secretary of the Indo-Belgian Diamantaire Association, Shashin Choksey, says, "We have to now put ethnic differences aside and work for the future of Antwerp."

Antwerp's diamond industry contributes up to eight percent of Belgium's overall exports and has generated 30,000 jobs to date. However, its undisputed position as a leading diamond center is being seriously challenged by upcoming commercial powers like tax-free Dubai and India. India has emerged as the world's diamond manufacturing hub.

--PJM Staff

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