Botswana is expected to sell more diamonds to the Chinese market after the diamond and cutting polishing company Dalumi Group signed an agreement to export polished diamonds to around 2000 retail stores in China.
Local diamond manufacturer Dalumi Group and one of the Chinese retail giant King One Plc last week signed the agreement which marks Botswana’s major expansion into China retail market for diamonds, according to Dalumi Group Managing Director (MD) Kobi Itzchaki.
The MD indicated that the exclusive agreement will enable Dalumi to increase diamond exports to China and improve sustainability of its locally based diamond and cutting polishing factory which employs 240 Batswana. According to the MD, the agreement will allow them to sell the locally branded and polished diamonds which are expected to promote Botswana in the international diamond market. “SWANA Diamond has 89 facets and a perfect star in its culet, giving every stone greater brilliance and internal fire. The SWANA Diamond tells the story of Botswana wherever it is sold around the world. Dalumi Group and King One will jointly promote the SWANA diamond brand in 2000 retail stores in China,” said Itzchaki.
The MD indicated that the SWANA brand is a top performer ever since Dalumi started exporting it to China, something that gave them confidence to expand sales volumes. “We opened over 400 selling points of SWANA brand in China and the brand has proved that it competes well in the international market. Signing the distribution agreement to sell to King One will expand the circle where the diamond sells.” He indicated that Dalumi intends to sell SWANA diamonds worth over P1.2 billion to the Chinese market during the next five years.
According to Itzchaki Chinese market for diamonds is growing and will continue to grow. He added that SWANA brand could do well in the market as it targets bridal market which does not buy the product for luxury. “The market or the customers need the product and we don’t believe they will compromise quality,” he said.
King One President Cheng Bao Kang indicated that the cooperation is not only between the two companies but also involves Botswana and China who are expected to benefit from cultural exchange via SWANA brand. He stated that the long-term vision of the two companies is to promote SWANA brand in the global market, a development which is expected to attract tourists to Botswana and benefit trade the country’s economy.
King One is the gold and jewellery brand with a market share of approximately USD1.4 billion. In recent years the group acquired China’s biggest jewellery companies among them, JOVAN Jewelry, Gemdem Diamond, Jaff Jewellery and BaoQing Jewellery, according to King One President.
There have been fears recently that China and Botswana relations could hit rock-bottom following attempts by the latter to allow the Tibetan spiritual leader, The Dalai Lama, entry for an international conference in Gaborone on Botho (Humanity) where he was to be the main guest. This led to diplomatic theatre in which the Chinese were reported to have threatened that there would be “consequences” if the spiritual leader was allowed into the country.
In 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet and established a government in exile at Dharamsala in northern India where he and his group claimed sovereignty over various ethnically or historically Tibetan areas now governed by China. China regards the Dalai Lama as a renegade and terrorist and has continued to threaten countries with which it has diplomatic relations with sanctions among other things, to deter them from receiving and legitimizing the spiritual leader.
The Dalai Lama however pulled out of his Botswana visit at the eleventh hour in August citing fatigue due to his busy schedule. This however did not convince many people, including the soon to retire Botswana President Ian Khama who excoriated China for interfering with Botswana’s sovereignty, saying, “Botswana is not a colony of China.”
The issue was however viewed differently by the Leader of Opposition, Duma Boko, who said receiving The Dalai Lama in Botswana would be suicidal. “The recklessness with which this president handles matters of international diplomacy is astonishing,” he told his party (BNF) at its congress in July this year, adding that he would when in power uphold the One-China Policy. “International relations require dialogue and diplomacy rather than inconsiderate acts of unilateralism…The current views represent the whims of the president and his henchmen,” he said.
Boko however received backlash for this position, with some critics arguing that a fallout out with China, even if it had economic consequences, was not worthy of protecting at the expense of the country’s sovereignty which they say was under attack when China “bullied” Botswana into blocking the Dalai Lama.