Gold industry figures are hoping this will be the year when plans for a central gold market finally come to fruition, although fundamental decisions about the project have yet to be made.
U Kyaw Win, general secretary of Myanmar Gold Entrepreneurs Association, said he hopes to see a Yangon-based central gold market established in 2017. But similar optimism from government officials at the start of 2016 proved misguided.
Vice chair of the Myanmar Federation of Mining Association U Khin Maung Han told The Myanmar Times last January that 2016 would see Myanmar’s first official market for gold and metal trading open. But specifics of how the market will operate let alone its location remain unclear.
U Kyaw Win told The Myanmar Times it has yet to be determined whether the market will be an exchange where trading is based around standard units with set rules on matters such as delivery, or an over-the-counter market where buyer and seller are free to design their own transactions.
There has been progress however. Negotiations between gold trading companies, industry bodies and relevant ministries have resulted in draft rules and regulations for gold trading. U Kyaw Win told The Myanmar Times that the Ministry of Commerce is now working on the third and hopefully final draft, although he could not give further details.
The Myanmar Gold Entrepreneurs Association first sent its plans for a central market to the commerce and finance ministries back in 2015. Among the advantages of such a market would be the ability to trade gold electronically or through certificates without the need to holding the actual metal.
Industry figures making the argument for a central market have also pointed to countries like China, where they say official exchanges for gold trading have reduced illegal trading and smuggling.
Myanmar Gold Development Public Company Limited, which was set up by the gold entrepreneurs association, will be in charge of setting up the exchange, said U Kyaw Win. But the ministries of commerce, home affairs, natural resources and conservation, planning and finance and the Central Bank are all involved in the consultations.
“We can’t create the exchange just among us entrepreneurs,” he said. “We can’t lay down policy, only the state can provide that. If the [relevant government departments] help us then the market will appear sooner or later.”
The central exchange would also allow people in other countries to buy gold from Myanmar more easily, but the commerce ministry first needs to remove gold from the list of restricted exports, he added.
U Khin Maung Lwin, an assistant secretary at the commerce ministry, told The Myanmar Times on August 2016 that gold would be removed, along with several other commodities. U Kyaw Win said the removal was likely to occur once the ministry had finished its final draft of the gold trading rules and regulations.
Other government ministries are also making necessary changes to regulation that they control. U Win Htein, director general of the Mining Department under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, said that the rules and regulations that will accompany the mining law passed in December 2015 will allow also the sale of gold.
That ministry is also in discussion with the gold entrepreneurs association on creating and monitoring quality standards for gold, said U Kyaw Win.
Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein and Mayor U Maung Maung Soe are also supporting the project, he added.
“They will support us by providing a place [for the market] and a YCDC contract,” he said. “They asked us to submit a proposal to them, and we can say with certainty where the location is once [they have told us].”
U Phyo Min Thein’s office said the minister was unable to comment on the plans for a gold market, and referred questions back to the Myanmar Gold Entrepreneurs Association.
Translation by San Layy, Khine Thazin Han and Emoon