Myanmar to sell gems worth $63.8m

Yangon, March 15:

Myanmar expects to sell about $63.8 million worth of precious stones, jade, jewelry and pearls, including a 33-carat ruby, during this month’s gems sale in Yangon, officials said today. More than 1,000 gem merchants from 11 countries are expected to attend the 10-day long emporium which began today, deputy mines minister Myint Thein said. Items will be sold by auction, tender and fixed prices.

The minister said the emporium is attracting more merchants each year as higher quality gems and jade are put on sale and Myanmar’s marketing strategies improve. The prominent item on sale is a 33-carat Mogok ruby with a price tag of $4.2 million.

The largest contingent of merchants will be coming from Hong Kong and will dominate the jade market while dealers from neighbouring Thailand are interested in jewelry and pearls. Buyers from the US are also expected to attend the show even though Washington has banned imports from Myanmar, prohibited dollar remittances to the country and imposed sanctions on the country to pressure the military government to release detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In response, the government has instructed government organisations and businesses to use the euro instead of the US dollar in international business transactions. The events are a major source of revenue for Myanmar, with the government imposing a 10 per cent tax while the rest of the profits go to private gem owners.

The annual emporium began in 1964 and was expanded to a twice-yearly event in 1992.