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24 August 2009

Myanmar to hold mid-year gems emporium in Oct-Nov

Myanmar will hold a mid-year gems emporium here in October-November this year to encourage national gem traders to sell more quality gems, jade, pearl and jewelry, Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted sources with the Central Committee for Holding Myanmar Gems Emporium as saying Sunday.

Without specific date set, the 18th Mid-Year Gems Emporium will take place at the Myanmar Convention Center on the basis of competitive bidding, the sources said. Mid-year gems emporium is introduced in addition to the annual ones to boost the country's foreign exchange earning.

In March this year, an annual gems emporium, which was the 46th, took place in Yangon, putting over 5,000 lots of jade among others. Around 2,300 foreign merchants mostly from China, China's Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, India, Italy, Britain, Japan, Australia, the United States and Canada attended the annual event which reportedly fetched $191 million.

Again in late June this year, Myanmar held a 13-day special gem show here, earning $292 million.

The authorities designated the proceeds from the sale of gems at these emporiums as legal export earning to encourage the private sector in the development of the gem industry.

Myanmar started to hold gem shows annually in 1964, introducing the mid-year one in 1992 and the special one in 2004. Myanmar, a well-known producer of gems in the world, boasts ruby, diamond, cat's eye, emerald, topaz, pearl, sapphire, coral and a variety of garnet tinged with yellow.

The government's Central Statistical Organisation revealed that in the fiscal year 2008-09, Myanmar produced 32,921 tons of jade and 18,728 million carats of gems which include ruby, sapphire, spinel and peridot, as well as 201,081 mommis (754 kilograms) of pearl.

Myanmar gems, along with all its imports, face US sanctions which were extended in July for another three years.

The ban, which began in 2003, was tightened further in September 2008, as part of the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta's Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008, which extended the ban to include a prohibition on stones processed in third-party nations, such as Thailand, closing a loophole in the original legislation.


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