President Obama at Vendors Fair in Burma

A hotel employee models earrings for President Barack Obama at a vendors fair at the Kempinski Hotel Nay Pyi Taw, Naypyitaw, Burma, Nov. 13, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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July 15, 2016 Myanmar 2016
Jewelry and Agricultural and Food products will be added to national export strategy

U Aung Soe, Director of Trade Promotion Organization, Ministry of Commerence stated that Jewelry and Agricultural, Food products will be added to the national export strategy as a new category. This two catageories were been installed by the economist in interim report of national export  strategy. The country has many lost in income since jewels from Myanmar are exported as crude jewels currently. Thus, in order to increase job opportunities and income, it would be the best options to domestic improve the quality of jewels and export the better quality ones. This is the main reason of adding jewelry category into national export strategy. This will help to allow the market opportunities more widespread. “We are currently exporting as crude jewels. And also in the jewelry shows, crude jewels are the top in sales. To export goods and to produce goods, it will need to be supported widely. If we find jewels as crude, then we will only get the price of crude jewels. The other countries will get the higher-value segment. Country lose a lot.” Said U Aung Soe. Thus, Natural resources and department of conservation and other concurring deportments are currently discussing about that matter.

This Agriculture and Food industry is also the one of the most promising category for Myanmar. Like in the jewelries, there are many farm products but only as in raw materials. So, if we can turn those into food products, it will increase job opportunities and income of the country. U Aung Soe continued “if we could widely produce and export the farm products to the markets, there will be a lot of increase in export income. And also it can create more job opportunities. That is why we are extending.”

The jewelry and Agriculture and food industry category have been reported and explained to the jewelry businessmen and economists in the interim report of national strategy. The business will discuss about this matter to produce the last report will implement this.

The National export strategy has been started programming in 2013 and was implemented in 2015. The following category is chosen for the export development as the priority. They are textile and clothing category, forest products, Beans and oilseeds, grain and rice, fisheries, Rubber section and tourism. So, These jewelry and Agriculture based Food products also will be added in the national export strategy.

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July 10, 2016 Myanmar 2016 
Gems emporium sale nets $592m, down 10%

PROCEEDS from Myanmar‘s annual sale of jade, gems and pearls totaled $592.12 million, down nearly 10 per cent from 2015, government data showed.

More than 2,000 gem merchants, many from neighboring China, attended the sale in the capital Naypydaw from June 24 to July 6, the official Myanmar Alin Daily reported.

Nearly all of the proceeds came from the sale of 3,647 lots of jade, which accounted for $475.35 million of the total.

Jade in Myanmar is mainly found in the Hpa-kant area in the war-torn northern Kachin State, where activity is dominated by mostly Chinese-led ventures.

Much of the jade is being smuggled into China each year, local residents say. Jade is a status symbol in China widely believed to bring fortune, wealth and longevity.

According to official data, China – the world’s biggest jade market – imported only about $540m of Myanmar jade in the first nine months of 2015.

Global Witness, a non-governmental organization, estimated the value of Myanmar‘s jade production at $31 billion in 2014.

Local villagers complain they are being forced off their land because of increased mining activity.

Scavengers who in the thousands scour mountains of loose earth and rubble for nuggets of jade are sometimes buried alive, including 114 killed in a landslide in November.

On the other hand, jade production has been dropping due to long running sporadic fighting between major Kachin ethnic armed group KIA and government forces.

Total jade production in the 2014/15 (April/March) fiscal year was over 16.684 million kg, compared with 43.185 million kg in 2011-2012 and 46.810 million kg in 2010-2011, according to data from the State-run Central Statistical Organisation (CSO).

Total jade production from April to November in fiscal 2015/2016 fiscal was 18.047 million kg.

Myanmar‘s gem emporium has been held annually since 1964 and provides a rare glimpse into its largely opaque jade trade.

Source : Dealstreeasia and FYI media on Facebook

RFA:Former Myanmar Government Officials Accused in Myanmar Gems Fund Embezzlement Scandal

Members of a Myanmar gem association called on authorities on Thursday to investigate the disappearance of roughly U.S.$ 100 million from its funds, including U.S. $1.1 million allegedly taken by former President Thein Sein, said one of the group’s members.

Kyaw Kyaw Oo, an executive member of the Myanmar Gems and Jewelry Entrepreneurs Association, told reporters at a press conference in Yangon that the trade group’s members demanded that the new National League for Democracy (NLD) government take action against the previous administration for its role in the embezzlement scandal.

The fund, opened under the Ministry of Mines during former President Thein Sein’s government, contained about $104 million accumulated from fees paid by entrepreneurs who worked in the extraction industry, according to a Myanmar Times report.

Win Htein, director general of the Department of Mines and chairman of a tribunal investigating the matter, said the value of the fund has dwindled to less than $8 million, the report said.

“First we heard €7 million [U.S. $7.8 million] from the fund was given to the former president,” Kyaw Kyaw Oo said. “So we raised the issue with retired Colonel Win Htein, who is now presiding over an inquiry committee. He said that only €1 million [U.S. $1.1 million] was given to Thein Sein. It’s on a recording.”

Allegations rejected

Also on Thursday, former Minister of Mines Myint Aung, who was appointed by Thein Sein in September 2012, told a press conference in the administrative capital Naypyidaw that the allegations against the former president were false, and the missing money had been properly spent and accounted for.

“Now we can clear up everything,” he told reporters at the conference. “We didn’t have any corruption here. What we had done was decided by the [government’s] Central Executive Committee, not by a single individual, and it was carried out according to working protocol.”

The money collected from 52 million people was distributed to areas in various states and regions that needed development funds, Myint Aung said.

Of the U.S. $7.8 million in question, Thein Sein placed U.S. $1.1 million in the Ministry of Construction’s bank account, he said. The remainder, which was raised separately from businessmen, also remains in the bank.

Myint Aung said he will seek legal action against those who have accused former government ministers and Thein Sein of embezzling funds from the trade association, state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

Some current Central Executive Committee members and gem association members signed a petition urging Shwe Mann, the ousted former parliamentary speaker under the former ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), to take up the alleged corruption case in parliament’s Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission.

In February, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi appointed Shwe Mann, whom she considers an ally, to lead the legal advisory panel.

At a press conference addressing the complaint on May 30, Zaw Myint Pe, a member of the parliamentary commission, recommended that an independent body be created to investigate the matter, the Global New Light of Myanmar report said.

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Precious stones are weighed at a gem merchant’s house in Mogok, some 125 miles northeast of Mandalay in central Myanmar, May 25, 2015. Credit: NurPhoto

Politically motivated?

In the meantime, the complaint and embezzlement accusations have been submitted to President Htin Kyaw, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Bureau of Special Investigation, Ministry of Mines, Mining and Resource Affairs Committee, and Myanmar’s upper house of parliament, theMyanmar Times report said.

Former information minister Ye Htut, who also served as Thein Sein’s spokesman while he was in office, told reporters at the Naypyidaw press briefing that the trade association’s accusations are politically motivated.

“This is a problem within the jewelry organization where many of the complainers are Central Executive Committee members,” he said.

The association should have first raised the issue of the missing funds at its own meetings, and then filed a complaint with the government if no satisfactory explanation came about, he said.

“The complaint should have gone to administrative authorities of the government led by President Htin Kyaw, the parliamentary committee which oversees mining, or the complaints and appeals committee,” Ye Htut said. “But instead, the [association] sent the complaint to parliament’s special commission led by many ousted USDP leaders.”

“This raises questions as to whether the reason behind the move might be a political one that runs deeper than organization’s internal affairs,” he said.

The NLD government, which took office in early April, announced that it planned to combine the Ministry of Mines and Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry into a new Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.

Myanmar’s jade industry alone is worth U.S. $31 billion, according to a report issued last October by London-based anti-corruption and environmental advocacy group Global Witness.

The group said a network of former generals, drug lords, and crony businessmen—including former junta chief Than Shwe and senior figures in Myanmar’s military-backed USDP—tightly control the jade industry and keep the sector’s vast profits exclusively for themselves.

Reported by Myo Zaw Ko, Myo Thant Khine and Win Ko Ko Latt for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Copyright © 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036
Story 2 :
$138m ‘missing’ from Myanmar Gems industry fund.
Myint Aung (centre), a former union mining minister, talks at a press conference on Myanmar Gems Expo Committee’s funding in Naypyitaw, on June 2, 2016. PHOTO: EPA
PUBLISHED JUN 2, 2016, 9:02 PM


YANGON (AFP) – An embezzlement probe hs beaunched after nearly US$100 million (S$138 million) vanished from a fund set up by Myanmar’s gem companies, a trade body said on Thursday (June 2), raising corruption fears in an industry notorious for its shady dealings.

Mining – especially for jade – was firmly in the hands of the military and their ‘crony’ elites during the final years of junta rule, but remains cloaked in secrecy despite reforms under a quasi-civilian government that came to power in 2011.

The fund, drawn from a one percent levy on profits from the multi-billion-dollar extractive trade, has US$7.8 million left from a high of $104 million, according to the Myanmar Gems and Jewellery Entrepeneurs Association.

“But we don’t know anything (about the money). How was it managed and where did the money go?” association member Kyaw Kyaw Oo told reporters.

He did not say how many years the fund was collected for, name the contributors or speculate what has happened to the cash.

But he said a parliamentary commission is probing the whereabouts of the cash and will soon publish its findings.

The group, which includes major mining companies that dominate the country’s trade in jade, sapphires and rubies, say the fund was set up to help develop local gem markets and associations.

“The members are worried about mismanagement of the funds,” Kyaw Kyaw Oo said, adding the group hopes the country’s newly installed democratic government, presided over by Aung San Suu Kyi, will deliver transparency.

“We did not have any chance (for transparency) in the terms of the old government,” he added.

Last year corruption watchdog Global Witness said Myanmar’s jade industry alone was worth an estimated US$31 billion in 2014, with most profits going to powerful military and ex-junta figures instead of the state coffers.

That estimated value would amount to almost half of the impoverished country’s GDP.

Large amounts of jade are sold to China through illegal mines and in rebel-held areas.

While the price of jade has slipped in recent months, poor migrant workers still risk their lives to comb unstable pits in northern Myanmar for valuable fragments.

Scores of people have died in recent months in landslides at open pits in Kachin State, which are also awash with drugs.

An Introduction to GIA in Yangon, Myanmar

Institute provides gem and jewelry information to the public, May 31

BANGKOK – May 28, 2014 – Representatives from GIA (Gemological Institute of America) in Thailand will host a meet-and-greet in Yangon, Myanmar on May 31 to introduce the public to the Institute’s gem and jewelry education programs and laboratory services. The networking and informational event will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and will include exclusive seminars, a special education giveaway and more.

An 83-year old public-benefit organization dedicated to ensuring the public trust in gem and jewelry purchases, GIA is globally recognized for its education, research discoveries and laboratory services. The event will include a “lucky draw” for a GIA Diamond Essentials online course, screenings for How to Choose a Diamond and Pearls at GIA, a buffet lunch and an information booth for GIA education and lab services. Presentations scheduled:

* Claudia D’Andrea, GIA’s director of Education in Bangkok, will give an introduction to the “Multifaceted GIA” * Pairach Nalinthrangkurn, GIA’s operations manager for the laboratory in Bangkok, will discuss the GIA DiamondCheck™, GIA’s new device that accurately identifies colorless natural, untreated diamonds in the D-to-N range and refers diamonds that are potentially synthetic or treated for further examination * Nicholas Sturman, GIA’s senior manager of Pearl Identification, will present on “The Colorful World of Pearls and their Mollusks”

The “Introduction to GIA” event begins at 9:30 a.m. on May 31 in the “Konbaung & Tagaung Rooms” on level 3 of the Sule Shangri-La Yangon (formerly the Traders Hotel) in Yangon, Myanmar.

For reservations, email tchaw@gia.edu or pkosolsu@gia.edu or call +6626324090 ext 138. For more information about GIA, visit www.giathai.net.

Gems lab angles for global recognition

SU PHYO WIN
Suphyo1990@gmail.com

A PRIVATELY owned gems laboratory equipped with the latest technology opened its doors yesterday, but, it will take time for the industry to receive international recognition, insiders say.

Myanmar, Gemological Laboratory will be able to provide a range of reports at a cost of K15,000 to K-150,000 to identify natural or synthetic stones, including treatment and geographic origin, according to its founder U Wai La Win.

“If we can make hundreds or thou- sands of reports matching [the quality of reports by] internationally recognised labs, with local coordination, it will be quicker to get the reputation of local labs recognised in. foreign couniries I ” he said.

U Wai La Win added there are about 10 such labs in the country, but most use somewhat outdated technology compared to his lab.

Leading Myanmar geologist Daw Yin Yin New said she supports the private sector as the government it- self is decentralising.

“By competing with the private sector, processes on the government side become more competitive and qualified. There should be no more monopolising by the government, I think,” she said.

Government gems experts should also work closely with their private i sector counterparts in efforts to re- ceive international recognition- Cur- rently, local stones often must be certified in foreign countries, but this business could be completed locally, she said.

“The government needs to liberalise and decentralise the sector by handing over mining processes to the private sector and simply collecting Lax from them, like Indonesia- This avoids conflict. of interest, though does not fully control all the country’s resources from leaving..” she said. Gems dealers say they welcome efforts to bring international-quality gems appraisal to Yangon.

U Thaung Tun, owner of Yadana Theingi Gems and Jewellery, said when local gems are resold at inter- national exhibitions, they must often be re-appraised to meet their standards.

Gary Nelson, a gems businessper¬son, said that while some of the laboratories here may not be glob¬ally recognised, they have a lot of ex¬perience and understand Myanmar gemstones.

However, laboratories bring a level of objectivity to gem appraisals. They have necessary equipment and can tell the characteristics of stones and how they stack up against inter¬national gems.

“They can identify stones very eas¬ily and very correctly,” he said.

Part of the problem for local gems laboratories is the world was in the dark for so long about the industry in Myanmar, and it was also difficult for Myanmar people to take in interna¬tional best practices.

Mr Nelson said the situation was different for U Wai La Win, as he studied and worked overseas for the Gemological Institute of Amer¬ica, and is bringing that experience back to Myanmar. In the past, most Myanmar labs catered to the local community.

Ideally, locally valued gems with a proper certificate should be accepted internationally, which will help local traders have the confidence to go places like New York or London and present the stone, he said.

Queen Elizabeth’s Burmese Ruby Tiara

Queen Elizabeth inherited most of the tiaras she own and she left them alone. (Unlike her grandmother Queen Mary, who loves to redesign her gems regularly)

The queen commissioned the tiara in 1973 from Garrard using gems which she already had in hand. The gems were 96 rubies from the people of Burma which she received as the wedding present and the diamonds from the Nizam of Hyderabad tiara which was also the wedding present. The rubies were a symbiolic gift. Rubies are believed to protect the owner from illness and evil and from 96 diseases that affect humans according to Burmese beliefs.

The queen wears the tiara often since its commission.