Last month, President Martinelli met with a delegation from the diamond world which included: Eli Avidar, the Director of the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies (IDI), Yoad Magen, Israel´s ambassador in Panama, Eli Izhakoff, Chairman of the World Diamond Council (WDC), Moshe Mosbacher, Chairman of the New York Diamond Dealers Club (NYDDC), Martin Hochbaum, Director of the New York Diamond Dealers Club (NYDDC) and Erez Akerman, Chairman of the Panama Diamond Exchange. In this meeting they discussed the possibility of Panama becoming a warehousing and distribution center for the diamond trade. For this to occur new legislation needs to be approved allowing the diamond trade in a free zone environment and tax exemptions for the export of diamonds from Panama.
Details of this meeting were not widely circulated among the press, however the basic purpose of this meeting was to lobby for the creation of the appropriate legal and economic framework for profitable diamond trade with South America from Panama. The current diamond market in South America is highly disorganized which provides the Israeli diamond trade with an excellent market opportunity using a country with a stable government, a solid banking center, a multi-modal logistics hub and a well established educated, knowable diamond community as base of operations for the region.
Another issue raised during the meeting is that Panama must join the Kimberly Process which certifies the origin of diamonds, thereby preventing the trade of uncertified or “blood” diamonds used as currency for illegal activities.
President Martinelli expressed his support for the idea and indicated that the government of Panama would do everything in its power to ensure the least possible bureaucracy in the diamond trade.
Panama was selected in May 2008 in the World Diamond Congress in Shanghai as the location for the first and only Diamond Exchange in Latin America. The concept for it already exists, the land and design are in place. It will be a 52 story office building located in Costa del Este with a state of the art security system and a five star hotel and luxury shopping mall next to it. For the project to take off the legal and economic framework needs to be created and applied.
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