On October 13, 2009 an international delegation of leaders from the diamond world held an historic meeting with the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli The meeting was attended by Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies (IDI) Managing Director Eli Avidar, Israeli Ambassador to Panama Yoad Magen, the Chairman of the World Diamond Council (WDC) Eli Izhakoff, and the President of the Diamond Dealers Club of New York (NYDDC) Moshe Mosbacher, NYDDC Managing Director Martin Hochbaum, and President of the Panama Diamond Exchange Erez Akerman.
During the meeting the diamond leaders brought up the need for Panama to pass legislation enabling diamond trade and tax exemptions within its borders.
Avidar stated at the meeting that the diamond trade in South America is currently not organized and in certain cases is problematic. He stated that the Israeli Diamond Industry is seeking a base from which it can expand activities to South America. Avidar said that it was imperative that such a base must have have strict rule of law, a stable government, and a well established local Jewish community. He said : « We are looking for the South Amerian equivalent of Hong Kong. We believe that Panama can serve as an ideal base for Israeli Diamond Industry activities in South America, just as this country acts as a free-trade zone for other products. »
President Martinelli said that he welcomed the collaboration with Israel in the diamond sector and said that members of the Israeli diamond industry would be welcome guests in Panama. The president also promised that the Panama government would take the necessary legislative steps to bring about a bureaucracy-free diamond trade.
During the meeting the issue of Panama’s need to join the Kimberley Process was discussed, as was the need to pass legislation so that the Panama Diamond Exchange can be granted free-trade zone status for diamonds, as well as tax exemption of diamond exports from Panama to the rest of South America.
In the name of IDI Chairman Moti Ganz, Eli Avidar presented Panama President Ricardo Martinelli membership in the IDI League of Honor, Membership in the League is awarded by IDI to heads of state as a token of esteem for their efforts in enhancing their countries’s relationship with the Israeli Diamond Industry.