Leaders of the world diamond and jewellery industry joined Latin American government officials for the official launch of the $200 million Panama Diamond Exchange project.
When complete the PDE will be first complex in Latin America dedicated to the secure and orderly trade in diamonds, gemstones and jewellery.
Guests at the project launch included World Diamond Council chairman Eli Izhakoff, World Federation of Diamond Bourses president Avi Paz, CIBJO president Dr Gaetano Cavalieri, Diamond Dealers Club of New York president Jacob Banda and Moscow Diamond Bourse president Alex Popov.
Speaking at the launch PDE president Erez Akerman said the Exchange would provide Latin America’s diamond, gemstone and jewellery sector with “the home that it never has had”.
“This truly is a momentous event,” he said.
“The PDE will enable its members to do business without having to travel long distances, in a secure environment where they can speak in their own language… Anchored by our bourse, the new complex will provide the infrastructure that will enable Latin America to develop into the next great diamond market.”
Construction of the Exchange, which will also include an office tower and a shopping mall with high-end jewellery stores, is expected to begin midway through 2009 with the first stage due for completion within 18 months of breaking ground.
To encourage the development of Panama as Latin America’s central hub for diamonds and jewellery, the government has agreed to commence with the procedures necessary to grant the area of the new Panama Diamond Exchange Tower with permanent Free Zone status.
This will eliminate taxes and duties on transactions conducted within its confines.