Angola May Loosen State Control of Diamond Trade

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(Rapaport…May 29, 2002) Following the end to its civil war, Angolan government officials are considering loosening state control of its diamond industry. Currently, diamonds are bought and sold by ASCORP, Angola’s state marketing company.

“We created the single channel to tackle the problem of conflict diamonds, and during the war it was radically impossible to consider changing this,” said Carlos Sumbula, deputy minister of geology and mines. “Now the war is over and the government can consider other possibilities of an exceptional nature.”

Sumbula noted, however, that any change in the distribution of diamonds mined in Angola would not hurt ASCORP, which is a joint venture between Sodiam, the state diamond marketing monopoly and Lev Leviev, an Israeli businessman. “ASCORP helped us to victory; we will not turn against them,” said Sumbula. The creation of ASCORP, government officials stated, helped to increase state revenues and helped remove UNITA rebel forces trading conflict diamonds.

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