July 14, 2011 / 8:52 AM / 8 years ago

Drop in sales at latest Myanmar gems fair

YANGON, July 14 (Reuters) - Proceeds from the sale of jade, gems and pearls at the latest emporium in Myanmar this month were far lower than expected at 1.1 billion euro ($1.57 billion), an official from the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry said on Thursday.

Myanmar produces more than 90 percent of the world’s rubies and fine-quality jade. It holds sales three times a year. Proceeds from the previous one in March hit a record high of more than 2 billion euros.

More than 22,000 lots of jade, 282 lots of gems and 355 lots of pearls were put on sale by state-owned enterprises and about 750 private companies in the sale held in the capital, Naypyitaw, from July 1 to 13.

“We expected to earn record high proceeds from this emporium since it was far better and larger than the previous ones in terms of quality and quantity,” the official said, adding that bids were lacking for higher-quality jade lots.

Over 9,000 traders, including about 5,000 from foreign countries including China, Taiwan and Thailand, took part.

Gemstones are a lucrative source of income for Myanmar’s military-backed government despite Western sanctions imposed on the resource-rich country.

Despite the embargoes, many of the gems reach Western countries through other Asian countries, Hong Kong and Taiwan in particular.

According to official data from the Central Statistical Organisation, Myanmar produced over 46.81 million kilos of jade, 1.43 million carats of ruby and 1.42 million carats of sapphire among other precious stones in fiscal 2010/11 (April/March). ($1 = 0.702 Euros) (Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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