The Myanmar junta’s repression of democracy protests last summer have calmed the streets, but its harsh tactics may have also robbed the state’s gem trade of its luster.
Inter Press Service reports that Myanmar’s gem auctions brought in $300 million in 2006, the state’s third most profitable export after fossil fuels and timber.
But according to activists, a November 2007 gem auction earned $150 million, far short of its $230 million “low end sales projection.”
Now, Myanmar is staging another auction this week, prompting renewed calls for boycotts.
Human rights campaigners say that Maynamar is increasing the number of gem auctions to offset the effects of economic sanctions.
“Myanmar’s gem trade loses its shine”
Inter Press Service, January 16, 2008