The Republic of Panama has now been accepted as a full member of the Kimberley Process (KP), as voted in unanimously by the Plenary Session of the KP.
Panama Minister of Commerce and Industry Ricardo Quijano has described it as a “critical step in our long-term program to position Panama as the primary Latin American centre for the diamond trade”.
He added: "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 centres."
Quijano had formally presented Panama’s request for KP membership when the organisation met in plenary session in Washington in the US at the end of November. Panama 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 and together they are said to represent 99.8% of the world diamond trade.
World Diamond Council president Eli Izhakoff said: "I am delighted at Panama’s approval as a full KP member. 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 organisation to be formally accepted into the World Federation of Diamond Bourses.
Akerman said: "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.
"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.”