Economics Committee: Establish a free trade area for diamonds in Israel

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On the way to establishing a free trade area for diamonds in Israel: The Knesset’s Economics Committee recommends that the Ministry of Economy and Industry, together with the Ministry of Finance and the Tax Authority, soon examine the possibility of establishing a free trade area for precious stones that will allow foreign companies to open offices in Israel. Announced that the issue had already been raised before them and that they were working to advance it.

Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Economy and Industry, Naama Kaufman Pess, said that with regard to the diamond industry, the ministry is “supervising and developing”. Ophir Gur, added that a quick solution should be given and it seems that the interest in a free trade area seems to be a positive direction.

The committee further recommended to the Ministry of Finance to adjust the assistance it provides to the needs of each industry individually, in consultation with its representatives. During today’s discussion in the committee, the president of the Israeli Diamond Exchange, Yoram Debash, said that the diamond industry is 83 years old and in a medium year is responsible for exports in the amount of NIS 20 billion. He added that this is an industry that may seem glamorous, but has 15,000 families, most of them in the IDF, and need the help of the state. “What is suitable for restaurants is not suitable for diamond dealers,” he said. An international free trade area for diamonds, in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy, he said, “This is a growth engine that can increase the state’s revenue from the industry by about a billion shekels a year. The state will not have to invest anything, foreign companies will not pay taxes and it will be worthwhile for them to engage in business, while Israeli diamond dealers will pay tax and enjoy the entry of foreign companies. ”

Chairman Yaakov Margi opened the meeting and said that we all grew up knowing that the diamond industry is the number one export industry in Israel, but he is experiencing an 80% decline in activity and there is a real consensus for its continued existence. Which is suitable for him.

The chairman of the Diamond Institute, Boaz Moldavsky, referred to this and said that 450 members of the stock exchange came and took NIS 1,250 that the stock exchange gave without knowing who the applicants were, and this shows how difficult the situation is.

A representative of the budget department, Gal Burns, said that 74% -76% of diamond applicants’ loans from the fund are state-approved, compared to an average of 68%. He added that a dedicated fund for the industry had also been established, and that the Treasury would be willing to change the fund’s characteristics in accordance with relevant requests. As for the free trade area he said that this is a recent application and therefore there is still no position on the matter. Chairman Margie called on all parties to meet and promote the issue.

The president of the Diamond Manufacturers Association, Nissim Zoarz, said that what can save the industry is state-guaranteed loans even for those at risk. According to him, the banks allow loans to those who are not at risk and those who really need a loan have not even applied. A member of the association’s board, Rafi Yerushalmi, said that the state must maintain jobs. He noted that the industry had shrunk from 30,000 families a decade ago to 15,000 families today, and said it must be maintained as it is an industry with capital and international ties.



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