Diamonds on the cards at IBCL fifth anniversary event

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Indian diamond merchants have reportedly expressed an interest in shifting their hub to Luxembourg, it emerged at the fifth anniversary of the Indian Business Chamber Luxembourg.

In his anniversary speech, Chamber President Sudhir Kohli explained that following a trip by Luxembourg Ambassador to India Gaston Stronck to Surat, “Indian diamond merchants from Antwerp are in touch with IBCL and are considering shifting their diamond hub to Luxembourg.”

Mr Kohli said that discussions had taken place about a possible diamond zone to be created in Luxembourg. “Inside this zone, free exchange of diamonds is possible.”

The President suggested that Luxembourg airport's Freeport, a free-trade zone for storing valuable items which opens later in the year, would provide the ideal venue for such transactions. Were such an exchange to be created, Mr Kohli said around 50 companies could shift to Luxembourg over two years.

Adding sparkle

The news gave the conference, which was hosted at BGL BNP Paribas' offices in Kirchberg, added sparkle to what was already a festive occasion. Around 150 guests heard speeches from Luxembourg Vice Prime Minister and Economy Minister Etienne Schneider, as well as Luxembourg Ambassador to India Gaston Stronck and Indian Ambassador to Luxembourg, Belgium and the EU Manjeev Singh Puri.

The Chamber was founded in 2009, prior to which imports and exports between India and Luxembourg had doubled. However, since 2009, business growth has slowed. Five years ago, export volumes amounted to 33.9 million euros. It rose to 54.2 million euros but fell again in 2013 to 38.2 million.

Over the same period, import volumes, meanwhile, varied between 8.8 million and 12.3 million euros. Compared to China, whose imports were seven times higher, the figures are low.

Mr Singh Puri touched on some of the difficulties facing the business community when investing in India, which could explain this slow growth. “A large country like ours is very complex with many federal states, more than the number of states in the EU, with more languages, diversity and pressures.”

Looking ahead

The conference focused primarily on the business opportunities present between the two countries.

Minister Schneider suggested that financial and economic cooperation could be reinforced and strengthened through the development of finance, technology and talent. He reassured listeners that “no business-unfriendly decisions will be taken and no precipitous measures will be implemented” in Luxembourg. He also announced that there are plans to review existing financial instruments such as investment aid, research subsidies and government guarantees in order to nurture the business relationship of the two countries.

Mr Stronck, meanwhile, stressed the enormous growth potential in India. “The opportunities for Luxembourg companies in India are unlimited. With 1.2 billion inhabitants and half of them below 25. A middle class that's a growing community, eager to have a better life and eager to consume.”

During the conference, it was announced that IBCL plans to produce a publication to complement its work. The next IBCL event will be held on May 22, “Fostering Entrepreneurship in Family Business”.

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