As part of the ongoing efforts of the UAE Kimberley Process Chair (KP Chair), Ahmed Bin Sulayem, to engage countries across the diamond supply chain, he has held meetings with senior government and industry representatives in South Korea. The aim of these discussions was to deliberate ways to bolster the diamond industry in the East Asian nation and determine the role Dubai can play in supporting Seoul becoming a diamond trading center.
The KP Chair met with Hong Dawoon, Assistant Director of the Export Control Policy Division at the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy; as well as Chang Soo Nam, President of the Korea Diamond Exchange, and the KDE Board of Directors. Additionally, the Korea Strategic Trade Institute (KOSTI) delivered a presentation of their work in managing Korea’s KP Office. Mr. Bin Sulayem also met with industry representatives including Koo Hyun-Woo, Chief of Gem Laboratory, Mirae; Yu Seong-Woo, CEO of Findings & Total Jewelry; and Jung Hun Kim, Partner at the Diamond division of ST&Co, amongst other officials.
“There is little doubt of the potential for Korea to become a more prominent player in the diamond industry – both as a consumer market and as a trade hub,” said Mr. Bin Sulayem. “Located in close proximity to both China and Japan, which are two of the biggest consuming markets globally, there is an opportunity for Seoul to act as a catalyst for the regional trade in diamonds. It already has the world-class infrastructure and resources in place, and with support from global diamond centers such as Dubai, I strongly believe that the country can become a hub for the industry in the years ahead.”
Korea has been a member of the KP since 2003 and imported over $3.8 million worth of rough diamonds in 2014. In total, the country imported $58.4 million in diamonds that year, and it is recognised as one of the biggest luxury goods markets in the world – worth over $11.6 billion in 2015. However, imitation jewellery is seen as an issue for the industry with imports in this space being valued at $82.8 million and exports worth $178 million in 2014.
“Through meetings with the government and the KDE, it is evident that the full potential of the consumer market remains untapped. We need to discuss ways in which the industry can work collectively with retailers to raise awareness and consumer confidence in the natural diamond sector, both as a sentimental and long-term investment, over imitation jewellery,” added Mr. Bin Sulayem.
The visit to Korea concluded the KP Chair’s tour of East Asia, which included Hong Kong and Japan. Mr. Bin Sulaymen will travel to Turkey next to meet with senior government and industry officials.