Jade market slumps as buyers stay away

More than two years into the slump, jade prices show no sign of recovery at Mandalay’s Maha Aung Myay jade market. Though some traders say they have made small profits, many others are holding back their stock to avoid selling at a loss.

The two sales highlights of the year – the Chinese New Year and Thingyan – have come and gone, unmarked by any of the usual surges in buying. Many Chinese traders who are a mainstay of the market have also come and left, empty-handed.

A trader in polished gemstones, U Myo Zaw, said that, in the rare event of a sale, prices were down 25 percent or more on previous years.

“Jade traders can’t get the prices they expected, even though the Chinese buyers came this year. The price is 25pc down. One of the reasons is that the Chinese market itself is dull,” he said.

“Some traders will trade their stones for any price they can get.”

Ko Win, who trades in sheet jade, said even the year’s great festivals had failed to shake the torpor. “The jade market has been slack for a long time. Some traders managed a small profit as the market was falling. The Chinese are not paying the prices,” he said.

In previous years, jade prices would bounce back after Thingyan or the Chinese New Year, but this losing streak has lasted since the end of 2012, said Ko Wai Phyo Thu, a jade trader in the jewellery market.

“The prices we are being offered are too low. But that’s the price we have to sell at, if we sell at all,” he said.

In the past, explanations for poor market performance have included a shortage of high-quality stone, a crackdown on corruption in China and fighting in the jade-producing areas of Kachin State. Ko Soe Nyunt Aung, a trader in unpolished jade, said that the gems emporium to be hosted in Nay Pyi Taw might be another reason.

He added that prices in Hpakant township, Kachin State, were still high. “The low jade market in China might be a reason. But traders are selling in Hpakant, which could explain the dull market here. Jade prices in Hpakant are high, if the quality is good,” he said.

Maha Aung Myay traders, who can make do by selling the occasional sheet or bracelet, accept this state of affairs because they want to sell their product, said trader Ko Sai. “We can’t just wait for better prices. We sell at a small profit because we have to make a living,” he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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