After 2014’s slump in Chinese demand and continued clashes in jade mining areas, dealers are looking to the year ahead with some anxiety.
A shortage of quality stones coming to market, reduced interest from China and continued fighting in jade-rich Kachin State are the main reasons, according to the dealers.
Mandalay jade dealers are largely dependent on interest from Chinese buyers for their products, though dealer Ko Soe Nyunt said sales had been falling for much of the past year.
“Last year had record poor sales, mainly because of the scarcity of [quality] stones,” he said, also pointing to armed skirmishes in Kachin State, the main source for jade.
Chinese traders, once enthusiastic buyers, have also been conspicuous by their absence. “The market is cool when they don’t come. This is the hardest year for the jade market. Investment has dried up,” he said.
Ko Zaw Naing, a sliced jade dealer, said traders could no longer forecast how the market would turn out. Interest in the Nay Pyi Taw gem emporiums fell last year, and market restructuring was inevitable.
“We have jade, but we can’t sell at a profit. The market is dominated by Chinese traders, and they won’t give us a fair price,” he said.
China has also conducted a high-profile crackdown on its own corrupt officials, which some are blaming for falling interest from the country’s buyers.
“The jade market is directly concerned by Chinese policy,” said Ko Zaw Naing.
Ko Min Min, a dealer in cut and polished stone, said last year jade would go for between K300,000 and K500,000, but the picture for 2015 was dark.
“Only 1 percent of traders can sell at last year’s prices, and that was the worst year ever,” he said. “Gem traders can’t handle these low prices, and the market is getting worse.”
Jewel trader Ko Kyaw Swar said last year’s sales were flat as Chinese traders stayed away from the Maha Aung Myay gem trading centre, which specialises in sliced jade, jade bracelets, cut and polished jade and jewellery.
Those who did come bid so low the traders wouldn’t sell. And even jewellery traders who took their wares Ruili, a border city in China that is also called Shweli, did poor trade.
“Traders in the Ruilli jade market daren’t buy any more jewellery because they are already holding so much. They can’t get a fair price for it. So it was a wasted journey for us,” he said.
Gem broker Ko Min Min Latt said some traders were looking for a new line of work after going days without a sale. “Many gem brokers are moving to other business. It’s getting hard to make ends meet,” he said.
Source: MYANMAR TIMES