By Michelle Graff
Mumbai--India has opened its first Special Notified Zone (SNZ) for rough diamond trading, an event that’s a “major milestone” in  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign to promote the country as a major global diamond trading hub.

An SNZ is a trading center where rough diamonds can be exchanged without income tax assessments.

India’s SNZ is called the Indian Diamond Trading Centre (IDTC) and was opened to help India, which is the world’s largest cutter and polisher of diamonds but still has to import 90 percent of the rough it processes, better compete with main diamond hubs of Antwerp, Dubai and Israel.

The availability of rough via this new center will “make a huge difference, as the (Indian) manufacturers won’t have to travel across the world to procure diamonds,” said Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council Chairman Praveenshankar Pandya.

The GJEPC and the Bharat Diamond Bourse launched the center.

In attendance at the facility’s formal opening were Jean-Marc Lieberherr, managing director of Rio Tinto Diamonds, Alrosa Vice President Andrey Polyakov and Marcus Lung, De Beers’ senior sales manager for Asia-Pacific.

Once the operations of the new IDTC are fine-tuned, plans call for the GJEPC, in association with various other bodies, to open additional SNZs in other areas of India including in Surat, Gujarat and possibly Jaipur, a big hub for the colored gemstone trade.

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