Venezuela expects to rejoin the global watchdog established to stop trade in conflict diamonds as it seeks to resume diamond exports, its central bank director said yesterday.
“We are certain we will rejoin this year,” said Jose Khan on the sidelines of a meeting of the Kimberley Process in Dubai.
Ahmed bin Sulayem, the executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre who is also this year’s chairman of Kimberley, said the country would return to the fold soon. “Venezuela will be readmitted as a full member within my term as chairman.”
Mr bin Sulayem has travelled to Venezuela since he took office to expedite the process of readmitting the country. Mr Khan said Venezuela had been a tiny exporter of about 3,000 carats a month until, unable to verify the legitimacy of its diamonds, it stopped issuing export certificates in 2005 and unilaterally removed itself as an active participant in the Kimberley Process in 2008.
After its withdrawal, it was not officially allowed to export diamonds, although some smuggling continued, traders said. “We left in 2008 as we were trying to organise all our mining policy, and now we are prepared to join as we changed our law,” Mr Khan said.
The Kimberley Process seeks to end trade in conflict diamonds, known as blood diamonds, which it says are used to finance wars against legitimate governments.
Kimberley says its members must demonstrate they have legislation and institutions to prevent trade in conflict diamonds, as well as export, import and internal controls plus a commitment to transparency and the exchange of data.
A resumption of legal diamond exports could in the long term give an important boost to Venezuela’s economy, which is grappling with runaway inflation and chronic product shortages in the wake of the plunge of oil prices.
“We are looking forward to having a semi-industrial and an industrial sector soon and we have spoken with a lot of representatives from various producing countries, and look forward to joint ventures,” Mr Khan said of the South American country’s plans for its diamond sector.
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