In an open letter to the Group of Seven (G7) countries, diamond producer De Beers has stated that it fully and unequivocally supports the objectives of the G7 countries to prohibit diamonds of Russian origin from entering their borders.
The G7 countries are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.
“A framework designed to identify diamonds from Russia must be able to identify and trace all diamonds. Since the prospect of new import restrictions was first announced by the G7 earlier this year, De Beers has worked with government and industry stakeholders to identify effective and practical industry-wide solutions to meet this objective. Throughout our discussions two things have been clear: why we should do this is easy, but how we should do it is hard,” De Beers CEO Al Cook said in the letter to the G7 members, published on October 19.
He noted that several proposals had been developed to achieve the G7 objectives. However, to shape a framework that works, Cook believes that it needs to be collaborative, coherent and collective.
“To ensure that it can be effectively implemented, any framework that applies to the entire industry must be developed with input from across the industry,” Cook said, noting that while some of the diamond industry rests within the G7, much of it is outside of it.
“We urge the G7 to engage with governments and industry in key producer countries such as Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Angola and in key cutting centres such as India,” he said.
Cook added that any framework that was developed needed to be workable and must avoid damaging diamond exports from producing countries outside Russia. In particular, he said that any import framework must protect the jobs, businesses and livelihoods that sustain the economies of diamond-producing African countries.
“We must be realistic about the current capabilities of technology-based solutions. De Beers has developed the . . . diamonds blockchain Tracr but even we recognise that no single technology-based platform is capable today of meeting the G7 requirements. In the near-term, technology can support a framework, but it cannot be the framework,” he warned.
Importantly, Cook noted that any framework had to be inclusive for all members of the industry.
“If an effective framework is one that identifies and traces all diamonds, then it must be as accessible to the artisanal sector in Africa, small enterprises in India, and independent jewellers in America as it is to De Beers and our partners. There must be multiple government diamond offices, in trusted countries, for the certification of rough diamonds to avoid debilitating and restrictive bottlenecks. Any solution that leaves parts of our industry behind threatens the integrity of that framework,” he said.
Cook said De Beers recognises that governments, not companies, set legislation. However, he insisted that responsible companies could ensure that such legislation was effective.
In pursuit of a collaborative, coherent and collective solution that supports the aims of the G7, De Beers has joined with 22 diamond industry organisations through the World Diamond Council to progress the G7 Diamond Protocol proposal.
“We . . . urge those that have submitted proposals to work together to create an effective and practical solution. Ultimately, enhanced provenance requirements will make us stronger as an industry and better positioned to meet consumer expectations,” Cook said.