The Executive Council of Macau has developed a proposal for legislation that, if approved by the territory’s Legislative Assembly, would see Macau joining the Kimberley Process Certification System. This was stated in an official communiqué, the Macauhub News Agency has reported.
Macau is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), located on the western side of the Pearl River estuary, in southern China. It was under Portuguese control for 442 years, from 1557 to 1999, and retains strong ties with the Lusophone world. It has a population of just over 653 000 and a land area of just 32.9 km2, reportedly making it the most densely populated region in the world. It ranks highly in terms of human development.
As an SAR, it has its own system of devolved government, distinct from that in the PRC on the mainland. The Macau governmental system comprises an executive made up of a chief executive and his executive council, a single-chamber Legislative Assembly, and a separate Macau judiciary headed by a Court of Final Appeal. The system is not democratic, but has democratic elements – for example, the Legislative Assembly has 33 members, of whom only 14 are directly elected, while 12 are indirectly elected and seven are appointed by the chief executive.
The proposed legislation would bring Macau into line with the rules governing international trade in rough diamonds. The intent is to allow the SAR to diversify its economy by enabling it to join the rough diamond trade, benefiting from the networks created both in China and abroad to market diamonds in the Asian giant.
Joining the international trade in rough diamonds would complement Macau’s existing access to other raw materials for jewelery from Lusophone countries. Macau is the ‘World Centre for Tourism and Leisure and Commercial Cooperation Platform between China and Portuguese Language Countries’.
The executive council has proposed October 1 this year as the date when the mooted law comes into effect. The principle point of this law will be that “economic actors” will have to possess “operating licences” for the import, export, transport, trafficking, buying, or selling of rough diamonds in Macau. The importation of rough diamonds will require a certificate from a “competent provenance authority”, while their export will require a certificate issued by the SAR’s Economic Services Directorate.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was set up in November 2002 (although the discussions which resulted in its creation started in May 2000) and came into force in 2003. Its function is to prevent rough diamonds being used to fund illegitimate rebel and criminal activities. Currently, the Kimberley Process has 54 participants, representing 81 countries (the European Union, representing 27 countries, counts as one participant). The global diamond industry’s representative body, the World Diamond Council, and civil society organisations also participate. The process certifies that rough diamonds are ‘conflict free’ and of legitimate provenance.