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Myanmar Announces First Gem Merchants Association

Apr 15, 2007 12:42 PM   By Zach Helke
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RAPAPORT... Myanmar is taking steps to create the first gem merchants' association to develop the county’s rough gem industry.

The nation’s largest business organization, the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, as well as the Ministry of Mines are behind the efforts to create the new organization. The new Myanmar Gem Merchants' Association (MGMA) will be responsible for promoting the nation’s gem industry and serving as a direct contact for foreign traders who wish to purchase domestic gems.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has conducted annual gem shows since 1964, and is best known as a destination for quality jade, rubies, and blue sapphires. The most recent show, the 44th, lasted 13 days and yielded 3,652 lots of jade, gems and pearls. The show attracted 3,421 merchants.

Since year 2000, joint ventures with ten private companies have been operating mines in the nation’s rich Mogok, Mongshu and Phakant minefields. These agreements have given the country greater access to international buyers.

Most foreign partners, traders and buyers are from China or Thailand. Trade with the west remains controversial due to the anti-democratic military government that governs the nation and profits from the gems. Both the United States and Europe have imposed economic sanctions on the nation in the years following the arrest of democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Other nations have followed suit.

The United States has banned the import of gems from Myanmar, with exception for those polished by third countries. Many western companies support a voluntary boycott of goods from Myanmar, the most vocal of which is Tiffany & Co., who stopped accepting goods from the nation in 2003.

Tags: China, Government, Myanmar, Tiffany, United States
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