PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

Turkey: the next international diamond center?

Antwerp, December 14, 2009 - In late November, I had the privilege of addressing the 2nd Istanbul Gold Summit in Turkey after receiving an invitation from Osman Sarac, President of the Istanbul Gold and Diamond Exchange.

In my address, I emphasized that in addition to being one of the most important gold and jewelry centers in the world, Turkey has the potential of becoming one of the most important international diamond centers too. Turkey serves as a geographical bridge between Europe and the Middle East and one would hope that Turkey would seize this opportunity and employ this advantage to its benefit..

I then asked two questions: Why is it that Turkey has not yet emerged as an important diamond center?  And what should be done in order to turn the country into such an international center?

The answer to both questions is: taxation! Without going into too many details, I pointed out that the WFDB's long and international experience has taught that the diamond industry cannot be developed when governmental taxation is high, while on the other hand, countries that decided to support and endorse diamond trade enjoyed great prosperity as a result.

China and India are both perfect examples of how changes in taxation policy can boost the industry and the local economy. I told my audience that Istanbul can very well become the Hong Kong of the Middle East. Like Hong Kong, it has the potential and the ability to become the ultimate gateway to this region.

I found it extremely encouraging to hear other speakers offer similar arguments, urging the Turkish government to take the necessary steps to act immediately and change its taxation policy on diamonds.

Lowering taxes on diamonds is not only in the interest of the diamond industry itself, but also – and very much so – in the interest of the Turkish government and people.

One has to remember that diamond centers all over the world drive prosperity not only in the diamond industry itself, but also in many other sectors that are directly or indirectly connected, such as tourism, real estate, local employment, restaurants, banks, carriers, etc.

Throughout history, the international diamond Industry has proven itself to be not only stable and resilient, but also a very strong generator of growth and prosperity.

This fact was evident during the latest economic downturn. Indeed the diamond industry was hit severely by the international recession, just like every other sector, but despite the stormy economic climate diamonds continued to shine out as a luxury product that not only carry a perfect message of love and eternity, but also act as a long term financial investment for the consumer.

The international diamond industry succeeded in maintaining relative stability even when banks were paralyzed and the financial traffic came to a near standstill.

I sincerely hope that Turkey will seize the moment and use this opportunity to turn itself into a central player in the diamond world.