Oct 20, 2015

Myanmar’s conglomerates hope to re-engage foreign investment

If you believe the official trade data, China’s import of gems, jade and other precious stones from Myanmar ballooned to $12.3bn last year, up tenfold from just $1.2bn in 2013.

Yet such figures are likely to reveal an increase in transparency as much as in the trade in precious stones. For many years, this massive trade has mostly been unofficial and under the radar, with estimates of Myanmar’s gem industry at somewhere between $15bn and $20bn a year, according to FT Confidential Research, a research service at the Financial Times.

If anything, in fact, the trade has begun to decline. In part, this is a result of the slowing Chinese economy. Increasingly, however, some of Myanmar’s biggest conglomerates, such as Max Myanmar, claim to be exiting or divesting from gem mining businesses in an effort to get themselves off a US sanctions list.

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