Authorities in Washington reportedly have doubts over a gem-tracing mechanism due to be introduced later this year © Getty Images / megaflopp

The US is re-evaluating a ban on Russian diamonds, introduced by the EU and G7 last year, due to multiple complaints from the industry, Reuters reported on Friday, citing sources.

A direct embargo on Russian diamonds, part of the West’s sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict, came into effect in January and was followed by phased-in restrictions on indirect imports from March 1. Later this year, Western countries also plan to introduce a tracking mechanism for inspecting unprocessed stones, to establish their origin and avoid sanctions violations. Antwerp, the Belgian diamond trading hub, is expected to become the first place where stones will be tested and certified.

According to Reuters, authorities in Washington are having doubts over the need for the tracking mechanism. Sources claim that G7 discussions on enforcing tracing have stalled after opposition from African diamond miners, Indian polishers and US jewelers, who have openly criticized the measure.

An unnamed official told the news outlet that Washington does not see a mechanism that would take into account the concerns of all parties that would be affected by it, and signaled that the G7 is unlikely to enforce the measure by September, the previously set deadline. Two other sources claimed US authorities have stopped participating in G7 discussions on the initiative altogether.

India seeking to block Russian diamond ban – FM India seeking to block Russian diamond ban – FM

Both the US State Department and Italy, which currently holds the G7 presidency, declined to comment on the report, Reuters said.

Last year, the African Diamond Producers Association, representing 19 producers accounting for roughly 60% of global output, warned that the tracking mechanism would “bring supply chain disruption [and] added burden and costs” to mining nations.

The Kimberley Process, a global regulatory body that monitors conflict diamonds, also argued against the initiative. In February this year, Botswana, Angola and Namibia sent a joint letter to the G7, once again arguing that the tracking mechanism would harm the interests of African states. The letter reportedly went unanswered.

India, responsible for cutting and polishing about 90% of the world’s rough diamonds, opposed the ban from the start. Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar warned last month that the entire global diamond industry would feel the impact of the measures, and said New Delhi will try to either “delay [the ban], soften it, and best of all, not let this happen at all.”

Russia, the world’s biggest producer of rough diamonds by volume, largely redirected its diamond trade to China, India, the UAE, Armenia, and Belarus last year. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned in December that the ban would have a boomerang effect on Western countries, hitting their own economies by depriving them of Russian diamonds, while Russia’s diamond industry would barely be affected. (RT)