Botswana objects to G7-EU diamond-tracking system


GABORONE – African diamond producers, led by Botswana, are demanding a review of the tracking and verification system that European Union (EU) and G7 nations introduced in March 1, 2024.

Under the arrangement, diamonds entering EU and G7 countries, which represented 70 percent of the global diamond market, had to be sent to Antwerp, Belgium, for certification, in an effort to prevent the importation of sanctioned Russian diamonds.

A report by VOA showed that the traceability initiative had reportedly resulted in clearance delays and disruption to the supply chain.

African diamond producers argue that has resulted in added costs.

But Belgium and the EU said steps were being taken to minimise delays.

A Belgian official told VOA the turnaround time for the certifications has improved, with all shipments processed within 24 hours.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said delays resulted from importers not providing the necessary documentary evidence.

He said African countries were bearing no increase in production costs, because expenses were borne by the mining companies.

“From the onset, we have taken the concerns raised by African diamond producers about the introduction of G7-EU sanctions against Russian diamonds seriously. This is the reason why we have taken those concerns into account from the very beginning of our discussions and have tried to fully address them.

“Belgian authorities have also reached out to a number of African producers between September 2023 and February 2024 to listen, explain and adjust the ongoing work on the implementation of sanctions against diamonds from the Russian Federation,” the official said.

Botswana’s president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, recently said the EU and G7 countries had not officially responded to a letter from African producers regarding concerns about the new tracking system.

The EU representative said the response had been delayed because it was being drawn up as a collective G7 reply.

On Thursday, Masisi told France’s minister of state for development and international partnerships, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, that G7 countries should reconsider the traceability initiative.

“Tell them that will be a regression in terms of our own development and an ominous threat to our own existence, and everything that we base our growth on.

“We just think that because they did not engage sufficiently, they haven’t come to appreciate what the threats are to industry and to livelihoods and the economies,” Masisi said.

Botswana is the world’s second-largest producer of diamonds after Russia. Its diamond exports last year were worth $7 billion.

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