Belgium could be the biggest loser if the European Union implements its latest planned sanctions package against Russia, Hungarian economic analyst Anton Benderzsevszkij told Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet.
While the 12th package is still being finalized, sanctions include companies that helped organize elections in the Russian-occupied territories and high-ranking defense industry leaders; the biggest single chunk would be a total import ban on Russian diamonds.
The most important question is whether the latest sanctions package will make sense at all, as the United States banned diamonds from Russia more than a year ago, and they seem to have been entering the U.S. unhindered since then, Bendarzsevszkij said.
So far, Moscow has been able to circumvent sanctions, and while the world’s largest diamond stock exchange is in Antwerp, Belgium, the world’s largest diamond processor is India, where 90 percent of all diamonds are processed.
The ban on Russian diamonds has been on the agenda for a year and a half, but has not been accepted so far, namely because of the aforementioned diamond exchange and trade in Belgium. While the United States and Canada have already banned Russian diamonds in the spring of 2022, the lobbying from Belgium has so far prevented this from happening in the EU.
A ban on Russian diamonds would therefore most affect Belgium, which is reportedly willing to give ground on the issue, Bendarzsevszkij explained. The Antwerp Diamond Exchange is the oldest and second largest such market in the world, and of the total $100 billion global diamond market, some $16 billion pass through Belgium at some point.