Jade Sales Drop Significantly

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 28 November 2016

RANGOON — Jade sales are expected to drop significantly at the latest gems emporium in Naypyidaw, due to lower quality jade lots and fewer traders.

The ten-day emporium, held from Nov. 20-29, displayed almost 6,000 jade lots, but of a lower quality than past emporiums, according to U Min Thu, deputy director of the Myanmar Gems Enterprise. He added that the numbers of registered traders had dropped by at least 200.

“Most traders came from mainland China, and only two came from the US, despite the fact that we invited US traders after sanctions were lifted,” said U Min Thu.

About 1,800 traders registered from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand. As of Monday, 5,922 lots had been auctioned.

“Due to the lesser quality of the jade lots, we expect to earn about €300-400 million,” U Min Thu said.

The Myanmar Gems Enterprise reported that it earned about €600 million at the emporium held in July. December’s emporium generated about €900 million.

“The jade market outside the country is cooling off. I hope next year will be better,” U Min Thu said.

The record high for jade sales was in July 2014, when the government and private enterprises sold around €2.6 billion to foreign traders, up from about €2 billion in 2013, according to the (now defunct) Ministry of Mines.

U Aung Thein, secretary of the Mandalay Gems Entrepreneurs Association, told the Irrawaddy that there had been a slowdown in demand from China, where most of Burma’s jade is destined.

“The political transition in Burma as well as a change in China’s economic policies is leading to fewer Chinese traders at the emporiums,” he said.

Local gems traders have urged Burma’s government to support the country’s internal market. Traders worry that a recent halt in Kachin State mining and an announcement that all remaining jade mining licenses would expire in 2018 will hurt the local market.

“We need more support from the government in order to sustain the market without relying on China,” U Aung Thein said. said.

An October 2015 report published by Global Witness, a London-based NGO, revealed that large revenues from Burma’s jade trade continued to fall into the hands of high-ranking military officials and well-connected crony firms.