US-China trade war shouldn’t hurt diamonds

Joshua Freedman

The global diamond and jewelry industry may have felt nervous about the US proposal earlier this month to place $50 billion-worth of tariffs on Chinese goods. The response from the People’s Republic last week — threatening its own duty hike on imports from the US — raised the stakes higher still.

However, diamond traders need not worry yet, senior figures in the sector have predicted. Precious stones and jewelry are not included in either country’s list of targeted products, and are unlikely to be the subject of tariffs in the near future.

President Donald Trump’s actions focus on products that both the US and China export in huge quantities, explained Colin Shah, vice chairman of India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) in an interview with Rapaport News Tuesday. Diamond cutting is such a small industry in the US that the state will probably not bother sheltering it from foreign imports, Shah predicted.

Of little import

US government figures show the nation shipped $21.62 billion of polished diamonds globally in 2017 — a figure dwarfed by, say, the $99 billion aircraft trade, according to CNN. China only exported about $1.91 billion of polished in 2016, according to the latest data from the China Customs Information Center. US imports of metal parts for jewelry are also minimal.

The US government is trying to protect domestic manufacturers,” Shah said. “In the case of diamonds, the US doesn’t produce [many] diamonds, so we don’t believe there will be any tariffs.”

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Source Rapaport