SURAT/JERUSALEM (Commodity Online): With Israel's polished diamond exports more than doubled to $308.2 million in December 2009, Surat hopes to improve its diamond trade in 2010.

Surat's diamond traders expect that the new year will spell a boom for the diamond business in the city, which processes almost every diamond made in the world.

When measured by volume, Israel's polished exports rose 60 per cent to 205,545.89 carats for the month, while their average price was 66 per cent higher than in December 2008 at $1,499.60 per carat.

Israel's polished imports grew 3 per cent during the month to $349.4 million and its net polished exports, measuring the excess of exports over imports, improved by 81 per cent to negative $41.2 million.

Rough imports increased 93 per cent by value to $346.5 million and by volume, grew 85 per cent to 1.739 million carats. The average price of Israel's rough imports rose 4 per cent to $199.20 per carat for the month. Its rough exports more than tripled to $176 million as December's net rough imports, the excess of imports over exports, grew 30 per cent to $170.5 million. Israel's December net diamond account, representing total exports less total imports, increased 40 per cent to negative $211.7 million.

For the full year, Israel's polished exports fell 37 per cent to $3.92 billion and decreased 19 percent by volume to 2.502 million carats. The average per-carat price of the country's polished diamond exports declined 22 percent from its average in 2008 to $1,567.64 for 2009.

Israel's exports to the US fell 43 per cent to $1.55 billion, while those to Hong Kong declined 27 percent to $1.04 billion.

Similarly, its exports to Belgium dropped 47 per cent to $288.2 million, while its exports to Switzerland were down by 41 per cent to $284.2 million and by 3 per cent to $122.3 million to India for the year.

Polished imports fell 43 per cent to $2.51 billion and net polished exports dropped 25 per cent to $1.41 billion. The country's rough imports declined 44 per cent to $2.5 billion as imports fell 13 per cent by volume to 12.804 million carats. The average price of Israel's rough imports dropped 36 percent to $195.04 per carat in 2009.

Rough exports for the year decreased 43 per cent to $1.89 billion, while net rough imports fell 48 percent to $606 million. Israel's net diamond account for 2009 rose 13 percent to $808.8 million.