Gems Em­po­rium seeks sales in USD

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - – Trans­la­tion by Win Thaw Tar and Thiri Min Htun SWAN YE HTUT swanye­htut@mm­

With the sanc­tions lifted those in the gem in­dus­try are hop­ing to see sales shift from euros to US dol­lars, to make it eas­ier for peo­ple to trade.

PLANS are afoot to con­duct gem sales in dol­lars rather than euros fol­low­ing a re­cent lift­ing of US sanc­tions, ac­cord­ing to the chair of the Gems Em­po­rium Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee.

U Than Zaw Oo told The Myan­mar Times the com­mit­tee was hop­ing to move from euros to dol­lars ahead of a gems and jade em­po­rium to be held later this month. But switch­ing cur­ren­cies is not a sim­ple process, and he thought it likely that Novem­ber sales would still be in euros.

“We want to [sell in dol­lars] to make it con­ve­nient for traders,” he said. “But we’re not ready to change yet. The amounts [in­volved in sell­ing gems] are in the hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars so we have to ne­go­ti­ate with the banks and the min­istry first.”

U Than Zaw Oo is also deputy di­rec­tor of the Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion. He re­fused to spec­ify which banks would be in­volved in the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

For the Myan­mar gems em­po­rium, con­duct­ing sales in dol­lars would make busi­ness much eas­ier be­cause of the dol­lar’s wide­spread use in Myan­mar and across the rest of the world, said U Than Lwin, a se­nior ad­viser to KBZ Bank.

Euros are harder to ac­quire in Myan­mar, and are only used in the gems in­dus­try, said U Than Zaw Oo, adding there would likely be more trans­ac­tions un­der a dol­lar-based sys­tem.

Pre­cious stones have of­fi­cially been bought and sold in Myan­mar in euros, in part to get around US sanc­tions. But the US lifted most of its re­main­ing sanc­tions against Myan­mar in Oc­to­ber, in­clud­ing a ban on the im­port of jade and ru­bies.

U Khin Maung San, ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Mani Yadana Jade Hall in Nay Pyi Taw that hosts the em­po­rium, said the com­mit­tee’s planned switch to dol­lars was prompted by the US sanc­tions shift.

The Amer­i­can Gem Trade As­so­ci­a­tion (AGTA) made its first visit to the coun­try at the start of this month to help re­build trade ties and busi­ness re­la­tion­ships. U Khin Maung San said US cit­i­zens are in­vited to at­tend the Novem­ber em­po­rium, but there had not yet been any in­di­ca­tion on how many might at­tend.

The ad­vance pay­ment to bid for gem­stone lots – for for­eign and lo­cal traders – was set at a min­i­mum of 10,000 euros (K14 mil­lion; US$10,963) last year. Ad­vance pay­ment to bid for jade lots was set at 20,000 euros for lo­cals and 50,000 for for­eigner traders.

Gem­stone lots were pop­u­lar with Thai traders last year, while most jade lots went to Myan­mar and Chi­nese bid­ders.

Photo: Staff

A man ex­am­ines a slab of jade at last year’s Myan­mar Gems Em­po­rium.

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