Kimberley Process approval a critical step to Panama's development
as regional diamond trade center, says Minister of Commerce and Industry
Panama's Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ricardo Quijano, has welcomed the recent unanimous decision by the Plenary Session of the Kimberley Process in Washington, D.C., to accept the Republic of Panama as a full member of the organization.
"This was a critical step in our long-term program to position Panama as the primary Latin American center for the diamond trade," Minister Quijano said. "While the trading complex itself is being developed by private interests, the Government of Panama is committed to providing a business environment that will enable the center to operate with optimal efficiency, meeting all international requirements. KP compliancy is a requisite, and in addition to that we intend that the area of the Panama Diamond Exchange in the new trading complex will have special tax free status similar to other world leading industry centers."
Mr. Quijano had formally presented Panama's request for KP membership when the organization met in plenary session in Washington, D.C., at the end of November. It now joins 75 other countries united by the certification system that is designed to prevent the infiltration of conflict diamonds into the legitimate diamond pipeline. Together, they represent 99.8 percent of the world diamond trade.
"I am delighted at Panama's approval as a full KP member," said Eli Izhakoff, president of the World Diamond Council. "The country has ambitious plans to position itself as a trading hub for the countries of South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean, and as such it is imperative that it work within the system of the Kimberley Process. I have been most impressed at the efforts of the government and its business community to make this happen."
The decision by the Kimberley Process Plenary comes at a most opportune time, according to Erez Akerman, president of the Panama Diamond Exchange, Latin America's only trading organization to be formally accepted into the World Federation of Diamond Bourses.
"The KP acceptance sets the foundation for the next stages of our development, which includes the construction of a dedicated complex for the diamond trade in the city's newest and most exclusive business neighborhood. The project, which is being coordinated by two of Panama's largest and most established real estate development companies, will include secure trading facilities, a tower with offices for hundreds of companies from Latin America and around the world," Akerman said.
"The complex is designed to serve as the primary gateway to and from the Latin American diamond sector, serving as a gathering place for companies from across the region and internationally. The region is one the most exciting growth areas for the global diamond business, and Panama is ideally equipped and located to play a key role," he stated.