Polished imports for the year decreased 4% to $4.38 billion. Israel’s polished exports to the United States accounted for 43% of the total
Israel’s polished diamond exports fell 11.8% to $6.24 billion in 2008 as the global financial crisis had a major impact on the year-end results, the country’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor reported Sunday.
The diamond industry is one of Israel's largest and accounts for about 20% of the country's industrial exports.
Polished imports for the year decreased 4% to $4.38 billion. Net polished exports, the excess of exports over imports, dropped 26 percent to $1.86 billion.
Rough imports were down 12% to $4.48 billion for the year, while rough exports declined 2% to $3.31 billion.
Israel’s net rough imports, the amount by which rough imports exceeded exports, fell 32% to $1.17 billion. The country’s 2008 net diamond account - net polished exports less net rough imports - fell 15% to $693 million.
Shmuel Mordechai, Israel’s diamond controller, said the global economic crisis had a major impact on the country’s diamond trade in the final quarter of the year, particularly as the country relies so heavily on its sales to the U.S. Israel’s polished exports to the United States accounted for 43% of the total down from 53% in 2007 and 63% in 2006, followed by Hong Kong, which took in 23%, Belgium with 9%, Switzerland, 8%, and the U.K., 3%.
Israel Diamond Exchange president, Avi Paz, said last week that the diamond industry is struggling with a severe slump in sales and collapse of prices caused by the global crisis. Many diamond merchants are stuck with inventory and heavy debts due for repayment.