|A customer (R) inspects
pearls at the Pwint Phyu Pearl and Jewellery shop at Bogyoke
Aung San Market, Yangon, on October 12.
MYANMAR pearl sales are expected to jump 20 percent this year
due to a stronger international profile, an official from the
state-run Myanmar Pearl Enterprise said.
MPE general manager U Sein Lwin said the biggest increases in
sales were coming from Japanese and European merchants, who do
most of their shopping at gem and jade emporiums in Yangon.
These auctions are an important source of foreign currency for
the government, he added.
“We anticipate foreign exchange earnings from pearl exports
will increase 20 percent this year,” U Sein Lwin said, declining
to give a figure for likely earnings this year or 2006-07.
U Sein Lwin said the MPE would put 30,000 pearls up for auction
at next month’s gem and jade emporium in Yangon being organised
by the Myanma Gems Enterprise. About 80pc of the pearls would
be “high quality”, he said.
“We expect about 70pc will be sold,” he added, noting
that 100 foreign pearl companies had been invited to the sale.
U Sein Lwin said Myanmar’s South Sea pearls have been
growing in popularity since 2000 and last year there were a number
of foreign merchants attending sales in Myanmar for the first
time who bought many pearls.
“Although we put more than 100,000 pearls up for auction
(in 2006-07), only a few hundred were left unsold. That tells
us that our pearls are attractive to international pearl traders,”
U Sein Lwin said.
The MPE re-offers unsold pearls at different sales throughout
Myanmar pearl production has been rising to meet demand, jumping
from 117,852 pieces in the 2002-03 financial year to more than
400,000 pieces in 2006-07, according to figures from the MPE.
There are six pearling companies including the MPE operating
in Myanmar, which has some 25,600 square kilometres of pearl-producing