5 Nov 2009 15:04

CORRECTION: Belarus slashes rough diamond imports 62% in 9 mths

(Paragraph four adjusted)

MINSK. Nov 5 (Interfax) - Belarus imported 26,100 carats of rough diamonds in the first nine months of 2009, 62% less than in the same period of last year, the Belarusian Finance Ministry told Interfax.

Imports in value fell 70.7% to $6.2 million.

They fell 53.2% year-on-year in the third quarter to 10,600 carats, or 75.6% to $1.088 million.

Belarus imported rough diamonds from Russia and Israel in Q3.

The ministry said the imports had plummeted due to shrinking demand for cut and polished diamonds abroad.

Belarus does not mine diamonds, but cuts and polishes them at the Kristall plant in the city of Gomel. The plant exports 90% of its cut gems to the United States, Belgium, Israel and Southeast Asia.

Rough diamond imports grew 11.7% in 2008 to 98,154.86 carats or 35% to $34.27 million.