Indian government bars trade in Zim diamonds

indian_flagThe Indian Governments Union Ministry of Commerce has moved to stop its country from importing controversial diamonds from Zimbabwe, amid growing pressure for international traders to shun stones from the country.

Indian has asked jewellery exporters and traders to bide their time until a solution of Zimbabwes trade future is resolved. Currently Zimbabwes diamonds are still effectively barred from international trade, because the watchdog Kimberley Process (KP) is still to decide on whether to give Zimbabwean exports the green light.

The Indian governments decision is a major setback to the countrys diamond conglomerate, the Surat Rough Diamond Sourcing India Limited (SRSDIL), which signed a deal amounting to US$1.2 billion per year, to import rough diamonds from Zimbabwe. Recent diamond auctions in Zimbabwe, the first since the country was barred from trade last year, saw a high number of Indian buyers. Zimbabwe was barred by the KP over human rights abuses at the Chiadzwa alluvial diamond fields, and the auctions earlier this year were part of efforts to bring the country in line with international standards. But the KP has not made a unanimous decision on Zimbabwe yet, because of ongoing reports of abuses at Chiadzwa.

The Mines Ministry has since threatened to sell its diamonds without KP approval and recently the KP appointed monitor to Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane, unilaterally certified Chiadzwa stones for sale. As a result, another auction, featuring mainly Indian buyers, went ahead last month. The KP has since publicly dismissed Chikanes efforts to certify the stones without approval, and has asked member state not accepted Zimbabwean diamonds.

The KP is still reportedly negotiating an agreement with the Mines Ministry, which continues to make it clear that it has no intention of adhering to the KPs limits. Mines and Mining Development secretary Thankful Musukutwa reportedly told a visiting Norwegian delegation this week that trade would not be stopped by NGOs and other hostile nations. Musukutwa said that while Zimbabwe has had a few problems with the KP, we have worked our way up and we are very compliant.

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