Following the lifting of the US embargo signed by US President Barack Obama at the beginning of October 2016, which blocked the import of jade, rubies and jewellery, we have yet to see the expected growth of trade in jade and precious stones.
. Jeffrey Bilgore, President of the American Gem Trade Association, said it could take some time to set up a completely transparent and appropriate supply chain.
The embargo was put in place by the United States and the European Union in 2008, in a denunciation of the violation of human rights against ethnic minorities in the country. In 2013, the EU decided to lift its sanctions (with the exclusion of arms sales).
Many key factors could bring about positive developments.
The resolution of conflicts in regions such as in Kachin State – located in the north of the country on the Chinese border – which has large deposits could promote investment, employment and productivity in those regions.
Despite its status as a principal source of jade and other precious stones such as rubies, the revenues generated mainly come from the exportation of rough stones which represent only 10% of the final sale price of the stones. The remainder is distributed through the various intermediaries who cut, polish and sell the stones to traders in neighbouring countries such as Thailand. The development of local processes and export licensing of the finished products could add great value to the supply chain.
Myanmar has demonstrated its commitment to combating corruption and to better regulating the mining industry, so as to develop its natural resources and reduce the environmental impact of the mining sector. The government is aware that it must develop a sustainable supply chain. Forced labour, health and safety problems, criminal activity and damage to the environment cannot encourage the growth of a developing economy.
As can be seen by its accession to the EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative): a standard for the publication of information in the oil, gas and mining industries. This requires countries and companies to disclose information at key stages with regard to the governance of oil, gas and mining revenues. The country will be subject to a new analysis by the agency during 2017.
If these measures continue, prospects for foreign investors and traders in precious stones look promising.