GJEPC Welcomes King Philippe of Belgium
he Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) hosted His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium at a round-table discussion in Mumbai on November 9th. The talks revolved around the contributions of the diamond industry to social and economic development.
The round-table included highranking members of the Antwerp and Indian diamond communities, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and minister of foreign affairs and European affairs, Didier Reynders, and Indian minister of commerce and industry, Suresh Prabhu.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium were on a state visit to India from November 5th to 11th, accompanied by six ministers and a high-powered business delegation comprising CEOs of 86 Belgian companies, 13 chiefs of academic institutions and 29 members from the media.
The diamond trade overwhelmingly dominates Indo-Belgian commerce. Trade in gems and jewellery constitutes over 75% of the bilateral trade and diamonds make up more than 80% of Belgian exports and more than 40% of Belgian imports from India.
The Antwerp delegation took the opportunity to demonstrate the ways in which the diamond industry contributes to social and economic development, focusing on the responsibility diamond companies have to do business in a sustainable fashion.
Stephane Fischler, president of AWDC as well as the World Diamond Council, said, “In India, more than a million people are employed in the diamond industry. The same economic importance applies to Antwerp, where more than 32,000 people work in or are dependent on the diamond trade.
“And, it must be said again and again, directly or indirectly, the diamond industry supports the livelihood of more than 10 million people worldwide. It is hard to understate the importance of the diamond trade to many economies and individuals around the world. But with great importance comes great responsibility, so failure is not an option.”
Fischler spoke about Antwerp’s efforts to secure a sustainable future of the trade, highlighting the AWDC’s partnership with the Diamond Development Initiative, an organisation that audits and certifies alluvial and artisanal diamond areas in Africa against human and social rights standards, and CIFAL Flanders, a UN training centre supporting the implementation of the sustainable development goals, with which it set up a “Start to SDG” support programme for the diamond industry.
Fischler added, “I am proud of the efforts the diamond industry in general, and Antwerp in particular, is taking to foster global socio-economic