More Western buyers expected at first gems emporium since US sanctions lifted

The first gems and jade emporium since the United States lifted sanctions against Myanmar is expected to attract more Western buyers when it opens in Nay Pyi Taw later this month, a government minister said.

Minister for Natural Resources and Environment Conservation U Ohn Win made the prediction in an address to the main organising committee for the gems emporiums in the capital on November 3, the state-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

Traders from 21 countries and territories have been invited to the emporium from November 20 to 29, at which about 8,000 lots of jade, gems and pearls will go on sale, reports said.

Trading will be in euros because there was not enough time to switch to dollars following the formal removal in early October of most US sanctions, which included a ban on importing gems and jade. Trading in euros was introduced several years ago partly to skirt the effects of the sanctions.

Jade pieces valued at less than €200,000 (about K282 million, US$218,000) will be sold through open tender and more valuable lots will be sold by auction, the GNLM reported.

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Officials said the move was expected to help boost sales, which plunged to about €600 million (about $654 million at current exchange rates) at the emporium held in July, down from €900 million in December 2015.

The July 2014 emporium set a sales record of more than €2.6 billion.

However, demand in China, the main market for Myanmar jade, has eased significantly since then because of a slowing economy and President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption.

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