Calls for Free Trade Area to Kickstart Israel's Diamond IndustryAugust 02, 20
(IDEX Online) - Israel's government is facing calls to set up an international free trade facility to kickstart the recovery of the country's crisis-hit diamond industry.
A delegation from the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE), led by its president Yoram Dvash, presented its case for increased government aid at a special hearing of the Knesset Economics Committee.
The committee is calling on the government for an international free trade area at the diamond exchange in Ramat Gan complex to encourage foreign companies to open offices. It will also urge the finance and economy ministries to adjust the state's guaranteed loan fund to meet the industry's needs.
Mr Dvash said: "The diamond industry has been a significant growth engine for the Israeli economy for over eight decades. To ensure the continued success of our industry, we propose to take advantage of our status as a leading diamond center and to establish an international diamond trading area in Israel with the support of the Ministry of Economy."
He says 15,000 families who rely directly or indirectly on diamonds in Israel have been affected by a decline in exports estimated at 80 per cent between March and May.
He has warned that many workers have already lost their jobs and many companies may relocate to other countries.
Committee chairman Rabbi Yaakov Margi called on the ministries to work together to formulate concrete steps to expand financial assistance and to create a specific plan suited to the needs of the diamond exchange, including a dedicated credit program, and to work toward establishing a free trade area in the diamond exchange complex in Ramat Gan."
TV screengrab shows Yoram Dvash at the Knesset