US Expected to Lift Ban on Burmese Rubies, Jade

SourcingSep 16, 2016

US Expected to Lift Ban on Burmese Rubies, Jade

After a recent visit with Myanmar’s leader, the White House announced that it plans to lift the remaining financial and trade sanctions against the country.

The United States likely soon will lift its import ban on rubies and jade mined in Myanmar. This is the Sunrise Ruby, a 25.59-carat Burmese ruby that set three world auction records in May 2015 when it sold for $30.3 million at Sotheby’s Geneva.

Washington, D.C.--The remaining financial and trade sanctions against Myanmar likely will soon be lifted, meaning Burmese jade and rubies again could be imported to the U.S.

The announcement came from the White House after President Barack Obama’s recent meeting with Myanmar State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss the country’s change and development over the past five years.

The ban on jade and rubies from Myanmar (Burma) is part of the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act of 2008.

Though the act expired in 2013, eliminating almost all the sanctions against the country, Obama signed an executive order reinstating the prohibition on the importation of any jade or rubies mined or extracted from Myanmar or any articles of jewelry containing them.

The ban won’t officially be lifted, however, until the president signs an executive order, so it remains in place for now.

Though no timeline for the signing has been given, it is is imminent, American Gem Trade Association CEO and President Doug Hucker told National Jeweler.

“For Obama to make that announcement and for it not to happen would be shocking,” he said, adding that it “would be a slam dunk” for the industry.

Still, Hucker doesn’t expect to see a sudden influx of Burmese rubies into the U.S. market once the ban is lifted.

“This is a very strong relationship business,” he said, noting that many people who moved on from Burmese rubies once the ban was enacted likely will have to take some time to re-establish their relationships at the source.

He also noted that even once the sanctions are removed, the industry still would have a role in ensuring that the supply chain is as transparent and beneficial as possible.

The AGTA, along with other trade organizations such as Jewelers of America and American Gem Society, aim to aid and to make recommendations to the government of Myanmar on the supply chain.

This could be especially important now based on the recent developments in the country.

According to local reports, this summer the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation in Myanmar announced that for the time being, it would not be renewing mining permits after they expire, opting instead to focus on changes to the rules and regulations to create a safer environment for its workers.

Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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