Russian diamond industry seeks to strengthen its position in the international diamonds market

The agreement on cooperation between Antwerp's Diamond High Council and its Russian partners: the Alrosa company, the Diamond Chamber of Russia and the Association of Russian Diamonds producers was signed on Monday, a RIA Novosti correspondent reports.

The document states that the Russian diamond industry seeks to strengthen its position in the international diamond market, to acquire a better knowledge of it and come out as a civilized partner.

The agreement envisages exchange of information in all the spheres of the diamond complex, training Russian specialists at Belgium's Institute of Gemology, joint marketing, cooperation in pressing ahead with the Kimberly Process to combat traffic in "conflict" or any other illegal diamonds.

The "International Diamond Policy and Strategy" conference held in the leading center of the international diamond trade focuses on the Kimberly Process and on the current fluctuations in the world natural diamonds market. Heads of diamond mining enterprises, specialists in cutting, diamond dealers and bankers are attending the conference.

Among honorary guests are Botswana's President Festus Mogae, whose country is one of the leading diamond producers, and the former US Vice President, Al Gore.

Commenting, at the request of RIA Novosti, on the international plans of the Russian diamond producers, Alrosa President Vladimir Kalitin stressed that the relations with the world diamond complex would be enhanced, with the Russian President's decree on significant liberalization of Russia's diamond market playing an important role.

As Kalitin put it, first of all, from now on the diamond export quota would be issued for a five-year period instead of one year. It means that Alrosa will be able to lend money for the development and modernization of the manufacturing process.

Secondly, the company will get the right to sell about 15% of its diamonds in the free market whereas now its trade is carried out through the world's monopolist De Beers.

Kalitin believes that it is a tribute to the times. With changes in the De Beers company itself the Alrosa policy must change as well as the relations between them /"not for the worse"/. It will be just a partnership in accordance with the wishes of the European Commission, he noted.

In an interview with RIA Novosti De Beers President Nicholas Oppenheimer expressed confidence that despite the changes his company's long-term mutually beneficial relations with Russia would continue to develop along the previously adopted line of success. "The previous experience proved that we can work together and tackle our problems jointly," Oppenheimer said. At present he doesn't see such problems and evaluates the cooperation as "very good and close.

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