The Myanmar junta’s decision to hold an international gems emporium demonstrates the urgent need for tougher international measures, including import bans and sanctions, to ensure conflict resources are not turned into a financial lifeline for the cash-strapped regime.
The Myanmar military regime begins a five-day international jade and pearl emporium in Nay Pyi Taw on Friday in its latest attempt to procure foreign currency by looting the country’s natural resources. Sources indicate the military stands to earn from 40-50% of the value of total sales from taxes on sales and through lots sold by its companies and crony networks.
According to state media, the planned “mini gems emporium” is only for registered local traders, but Global Witness has received information that foreign merchants have arrived in Nay Pyi Taw for the event. Sales of jade will reportedly be made in euros and pearl sales will be made in dollars, despite sanctions by both the EU and US on the Myanmar Gems Enterprise (MGE) and Myanmar Pearl Enterprise (MPE). Down payments of US$2,000 dollars are required to participate in the purchase of pearls, according to a programme Global Witness has seen.