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Ministry of Commerce launches African diamonds initiative

Mar '08
Angola produces about 10% of the world's rough diamonds and is also a country with which India has been trying to establish a relationship in the oil industry since Angola is rich in oil. Namibia accounts for about 6% of world rough diamonds production. Angola and Namibia are the world's fifth and sixth largest producers of diamonds respectively after Botswana (25%), Russia (22%), Canada (12%) and South Africa (12%).

India has embarked on exploration of diamonds but it will take at least a decade before commercial deposits in states like Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are proven and established. The diamond cutting and polishing industry will continue to be entirely dependent on imports of rough diamonds for a long time to come, Shri Jairam Ramesh said.

Shri Jairam Ramesh said that rough diamonds is not the only area where we must change our approach to Africa. He said that India's cashew processing industry—another employment-intensive industry—depends crucially on imports of over half a million tonnes of raw cashews from Africa with India's own domestic production itself being roughly of that amount.

India is now the world's largest importer of raw cashews, largest producer of raw cashews and the largest processor and exporter of cashews but that position now depends crucially on how its relationship with countries like Tanzania, Guinea-Bissau, Benin and Ivory Coast evolves, Shri Jairam Ramesh pointed out. Here too, African nations are keen on moving up the value-chain themselves and India must see this not as a threat but as an opportunity, Shri Jairam Ramesh added.

India must take care to see that it is not perceived as being interested only in Africa's raw materials and resources, Shri Jairam Ramesh said. India's is uniquely placed to respond to the challenge of building up human skills and human resources in Africa in different areas and it should leverage this to build long-term partnerships in diamonds as well, Shri Jairam Ramesh added.

Partnerships, not procurement should be our strategy, he said. And partnerships in diamonds must be embedded in the framework of broader economic and technological cooperation, he noted. That is why the diamond delegation has representatives of other public sector companies like STC, MMTC, BHEL and ONGC-Videsh as well.

Press Information Bureau Government of India

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