Burma Gemstone Production Down Nearly 50% for Calendar Year 2009

The following article is published courtesy of: Pala International

Vague mention was made last week of the annual general meeting of the Myanmar Gems Entrepreneurs Association, at the site of the 47th Gems Emporium now taking place. According to the official New Light of Myanmar daily, the meeting, held March 7, was attended by Minister of Mines Brigadier-General Ohn Myint and other department heads. No specifics from the meeting were reported.
What was reported on March 5, however, were industry statistics for December 2009, which round out another calendar year. (The fiscal year for Burma runs April–March.) The results are, as might be expected, dismal, with not a single production increase, except that of pearls.

Gemstone Production Figures – 2009
Gemstone, jade, and pearl production for calendar 2009 (Central Statistical Organization):
Total gemstone production: Down 46% from 2008
Ruby production: Down 10% over 2008
Sapphire production: Down 30% over 2008
Spinel production: Down 48% from 2008
Peridot production: Down 66% from 2008
Jade production: Down 18% from 2008
Pearl production: Up 5% from 2008
Total trade with China, however increased by 10 percent, as reported by Xinhua last week.

Except for anecdotal information, we haven’t seen statistics on how gemstone sanctions have affected workers, but a kindred sector—the garment industry—has been decimated by sanctions that were imposed beginning in 2001. According to a March 10 Reuters story, the Burma garment industry is estimated to have shrunk by 75 percent, with 280 out of 400 factories closing, and 240,000 out of 300,000 jobs lost.

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