Myanmar gems auction shrugs off Western sanctions

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YANGON, Nov 13 (Reuters) Western sanctions on army-ruled Myanmar's lucrative gems trade are likely to fail because nearly all buyers are from Asian countries which have no stomach for trade embargoes, officials and traders said today.

''I don't think Western sanctions will have as much impact on our gems and jade industry as they think,'' a Ministry of Mines official told Reuters on the eve of the regime's first major auction since September's bloody crackdown on democracy protests.

Human Rights Watch has called for a total ban on precious stones from the former Burma, where state-controlled mines supply sapphires, pearls, jade and 90 percent of the world's rubies.

But most of the 3,000 foreign buyers expected to attend the 12-day event in Yangon are from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand which have ignored calls for sanctions on the regime.

''So we don't think it will have much impact on our business,'' said a jade merchant, who declined to be named.


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