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