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groong: Armenia to raise cut diamond output to $400mln

Interfax

Jan 9 2004

Yerevan. (Interfax) – Armenia’s Cabinet approved a three-year
development program for the country’s gem industry which targets cut
diamond output and exports to rise to $400 million and jewelry output
to $100 million by 2006.

Combined cut diamond and jewelry output will thus be $500 million,
or double current levels, said Karen Chshmaritian, the country’s
trade and economic development minister.

The industry will have 10,000 employees, compared with 7,000 at
present, and the average monthly wage will double to $200 million.

The diamond cutting industry has grown rapidly, from $23.8 million
in 1997 to $200 million in 2000, the number of employees from 1,300
to 7,000 and the number of diamond-cutting enterprises from five to 50.

Russia and Armenia signed an agreement by which Russia will supply
Armenia with 400,000 carats of gem diamonds a year between 2002
and 2004, rising to 450,000 carats a year in 2005 and 2006. Alrosa,
Russia’s biggest mining company, supplies the diamonds under contracts
signed with organizations authorized by the Armenian government.

The government intends to search for strategic country partners,
Russia included, among other measures to achieve the growth by 2006.
Russia is currently selling rough diamonds to Armenia for more than
their market value, and Armenian factories are turning these diamonds
down, the minister said.

In addition, Alrosa is offering large consignments of rough which
Armenia’s small and medium factories are unable to buy.

Armenian factories bought about 130,000 carats of rough in 2003,
Chshmaritian said.

Russia supplies about half of Armenia’s rough diamonds. Armenia
imports the rest from Belgium and Israel.

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