By THE IRRAWADDY, 22 October 2022
For the first time, the Myanmar military regime has invited Russian traders to a jade and gems emporium in Naypyitaw, as it seeks to earn hard currency by selling the country’s jewels.
Their unprecedented presence is a sign of junta chief Min Aung Hlaing’s growing dependence on Russia, as his crimes against Myanmar leave him increasingly isolated on the international stage. Min Aung Hlaing has been seeking closer economic cooperation with Russia, the largest arms supplier to the regime.
The ongoing emporium, which will be held until Oct. 25, is the fourth since Min Aung Hlaing seized power in a coup in February last year. Jade, gems and pearls are being sold at the emporium.
Previously, gemstones were sold to foreigners only in euros and US dollars. This time, however, the regime is allowing foreign buyers to use yuan and baht.
Last year’s April fair earned the regime over 33.5 billion kyats (US$18 million), according to junta-controlled media.
Foreign countries including the US and Britain have imposed sanctions against Myanmar’s gems industry, the regime’s main source of foreign currency. The civilian National Unity Government has also warned local gem companies that it would blacklist them and respond as necessary if they buy from the regime.
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