US renews ban on gems from Myanmar

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gemsThe US on September 4 renewed a ban on the import of gems from Myanmar despite otherwise normalised relations with the formerly military-ruled country.

US President Barack Obama “is taking this step to advance our policy of promoting responsible economic engagement and encouraging reform that directly benefits the Burmese people,” the White House said in a statement, using Myanmar’s former name.

This prolongs the decade-old ban on imports of gems, which often come from Kachin state and other conflict-torn areas.

Human rights advocates say that the lucrative trade has helped fuel the violence, with ethnic minorities seeing little of the profit from gems in their regions despite working under harsh conditions.

A US official said that despite changes in Myanmar, little was known about the gem trade but the military appeared to be in charge.

“There is virtually zero transparency on where that money is going,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Myanmar produces some 90 per cent of the world’s rubies and much of the trade is controlled by the military, which ruled the country from 1962 to 2011.

Despite the ban, it is estimated that $100 million worth of Myanmar’s precious stones were coming into the US annually.

The renewed US ban will also not deprive Myanmar of other customers. The European Union in April ended all sanctions on Myanmar except weapons sales. Neighbours China and Thailand also are major buyers of Myanmar’s gems.

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Reading Time: 1 minute

The US on September 4 renewed a ban on the import of gems from Myanmar despite otherwise normalised relations with the formerly military-ruled country.

Reading Time: 1 minute

gemsThe US on September 4 renewed a ban on the import of gems from Myanmar despite otherwise normalised relations with the formerly military-ruled country.

US President Barack Obama “is taking this step to advance our policy of promoting responsible economic engagement and encouraging reform that directly benefits the Burmese people,” the White House said in a statement, using Myanmar’s former name.

This prolongs the decade-old ban on imports of gems, which often come from Kachin state and other conflict-torn areas.

Human rights advocates say that the lucrative trade has helped fuel the violence, with ethnic minorities seeing little of the profit from gems in their regions despite working under harsh conditions.

A US official said that despite changes in Myanmar, little was known about the gem trade but the military appeared to be in charge.

“There is virtually zero transparency on where that money is going,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Myanmar produces some 90 per cent of the world’s rubies and much of the trade is controlled by the military, which ruled the country from 1962 to 2011.

Despite the ban, it is estimated that $100 million worth of Myanmar’s precious stones were coming into the US annually.

The renewed US ban will also not deprive Myanmar of other customers. The European Union in April ended all sanctions on Myanmar except weapons sales. Neighbours China and Thailand also are major buyers of Myanmar’s gems.

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