Burmese gem smuggling is part of cross-border life

MAE SOT, Thailand – The feasibility of stopping the smuggled goods arriving in Thailand feels like ordinary two or four opposite the Moi River in Myanmar

The Friendship Bridge has a permanent pedestrian traffic and at least as many people cross the river on inner tubes or small boats. And during the dry season, the two months of the new years had passed through both sides of the knee.

The Thai Army is monitoring the movement, but it does not seek to stop the traffic. The Thai immigration network starts with a checkpoint, which is within 10 kilometers (six miles) of the country. And at that moment, they are dealing with illegal entrants rather than the movement of goods.

And crossing to Mae Sot is just one point along the 2,107 kilometer
(1,309.8 miles) border.

The Thai law provides for import duties on gemstones, and the police occasionally arrested people for violation of the law. But rare and when people are charged, they are usually in Bangkok.

Laws Old – Section 27 of the 1926 Customs Act, Section 17 of the Customs Act 1939 and Section 17 of
– and Thailand at the forefront of becoming the global center of cutting and polishing of colored stones . Now, most stones have been imported for value-added work and then re-exported, so Thailand earns money from the business, and the customs duty does not help stimulate stones in Thailand. For a while, when Thailand produced mines from mines near Cambodia and Myanmar, they did not need the imported goods. But now, with their own mines being demolished, the rough came outside of Thailand.

In America, it is legitimate to import loose stones and not pay customs until their value is declared. Even unlawfully taken stones from their country of origin can be imported into the United States without duty.

But Thailand did not change its laws to accommodate gems and the jewelery industry; thus, customs duties will continue to exist. Tasks mean costs, and smuggling is easy and cheap, but there is another obstacle in a difficult and risky business.
This smuggling on the Thai side is more difficult in Myanmar.

Indication of the spread of the industry in Thailand, Chanthaburi, in the eastern part of the country, Cambodia, that a man who smuggled colored stones from Myanmar explained a part of the game.

He said that the hardest part is in Myanmar, where the overwhelmed military government wants to buy and release the export tax on all stones. The generals have made efforts to increase the sale of gemstones within the country, leaving more money in Myanmar.

On September 29, 1995, Myanmar's gemstones were activated to promote the free market for gemstones. The law allowed traders to sell Myanmar mined, cut and polished stones on the open market in Myanmar.

However, in Chanthaburi, the seller said that huge quantities of stones were being transported from Myanmar and many were involved in small quantities.
Some are shipped to customers at the border, and others are placed on the Thai market.

It's hard to know how things are moving in Myanmar, and most smugglers have little advantage in telling and suspicious when people ask too many questions.

But, as Mae Sot says, stones can travel by all means. Even the soldiers smuggle stones. And some of the peacekeeping armies that signed the peace agreement are also involved with General Yangon. In fact, smuggling is practically every level.

Those who do not want to smuggle the goods themselves can find people.

Colorful stones from the Mogok and Mong Hsu mines and Hpakan's way to jade is much more dangerous and complicated in Myanmar. Usually a two-day trip to Mae Sotba, often a large part on foot, and there are a number of potential dangers controlled by various groups and toll roads.

Smuggling, however, for decades, even centuries, is so well established that they have adopted the rules themselves. They are so well-founded that many believe that goods are being transported on a trade route rather than being smuggled.

Once in Thailand, moving stones in small quantities are light enough and require little precautions. But if someone wants to move a lot of precious stones, it is wise to agree. And it may be cheaper for the right people to pay a few thousand dollars (one hundred or more dollars) before moving the stones than they have to pay a lot after they have been discovered.

The stones sometimes retreat with other commodities coming to Thailand from Myanmar.
Myanmar vegetables and perishable products are less distant than border towns, but teak goods, old and antique furniture and ornaments from a desperately poor country that sell their heritage for survival are quite common.
And then there are the drugs.

Methamphetamine, thai & # 39; ya ba & # 39; (crazy medicine) movement began to change border dynamics in 2000 when the drug began to produce large quantities of border regions.

Drugs destroying the material of Thai life are serious and frequent. In 2002, more than 2,500 drug traffickers were killed by the government during a trip to Thailand. Government authorities have quickly pointed out that most of the murders occurred between drug dealers.

The result of the gemstone trade was to find a more thorough search for drugs that could lift the stones, leading the price up when the carrier has to pay the fine to continue their products. But the licenses are looking for a large amount of drug delivery, so the effect of treating small amounts of stones is minimal.

However, drug trafficking is widespread along border regions and is sometimes linked to pearl trade. The United Wa State Army (UWSA), one of Myanmar's many ethnic armies, is a group that is involved in drug trafficking and uses gemstone to hide drug transactions according to Thai government sources.

In June 2001, Yangon's military government signed a contract with UWSA, which includes the requirement to stop drug trafficking and gemstones.
According to Thai government sources, UWSA decided that the two companies were better than one. And it was reported that two-year gem auctions organized by Myanmar Gems Enterprise were used for drug money laundering. In earlier auctions, Wa merchants pay for their own gems and pay more than the cost of the original money laundering.

But many gemstone traders say the drug connection is overheated. They point out that it is too risky to transport gems with drugs. It is safer and much more willing to do so.

Finding "mules" for transporting stones is quite simple in most of Myanmar. Immigrants come to Thailand who are looking for hundreds of thousands of jobs. According to an Amnesty International report published in June (2005), Myanmar immigrants do the dangerous, dirty work that Thais does not want.

The report says that "much lower than the Thai minimum wage, they work under unhealthy conditions for a long time and are at risk of arbitrary arrest and deportation".

Some add a long border and small quantities of gems can be shipped. Some Bangkok gems are traders, and many stones "smuggle" into Thailand in a coat pocket.

Gemstones enter the centers and continue to do so.

In Mae Sot, the number of gem dealers has increased in the street market in recent years. Now Prasatwithi Road is often crowded between 11 and 14 o'clock. And you will probably hear Burmese languages ​​like Thai.

The stones come from everywhere, including Africa, but most of them come from Myanmar. But some go from Myanmar to Chanthaburi and then to Mae Sotba. In Chanthaburi, cutting and polishing are much better, medium in Mae Sot, many say.

Jade has become more abundant, but the more expensive stone is more interested and the rubies are still the biggest draw.

But buyers say that more sellers do not necessarily mean more sales. Noi said she's been working in Mae Sot for 20 years, and the amount of stones is not much more than she used to sell smaller quantities.

The American embargo on everything from Myanmar had little effect on gemstones because it had no time. And now the lawful state of the pariah is again legal. This may be a good thing if we consider the feasibility of a ruby ​​market without a rough market in Myanmar, where most traders estimate about 80 percent of their original content. And that's better in the world.

During the period when the rough was banned from Myanmar, high-quality rubies from Vietnam, Sri Lanka and elsewhere began to appear. Now that they were the worst in Myanmar, as long as they improve significantly, where – the same stones returned from Myanmar.

American customs agents would find it difficult to get to know Mogok ruby ​​from a Vietnamese ruby, so the ban would have been hard at best.
And the same customs officers are much more urgent in searching for weapons and drugs.

But not only rubies and other colored stones that moved around the embargo. Apparel factories are reportedly sewing on labels made in other countries in Thailand, China, and selling clothing in the US and the EU through intermediaries.

Embargoes are difficult to maintain and something as valuable and easy to carry as colored stones is impossible.

American companies stopped buying rubies and all others from Myanmar in 2003, when the United States banned all Myanmar products from the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 28 August. ruling generals; human rights abuses.

Then, in December 2004, the US customs changed the rule for colored stones. The new rules stated that pearls cut and polished in Myanmar mining, but not in other countries, do not qualify as Myanmar. So rubies and other stones were actually exempt from the ban.

Most colored stones from Myanmar are cut and sanded in Canthaburi, the global center of heat treatment. Even cut and polished stones in Myanmar are often repeatedly made because the level of training is lower than that of Thai construction.

Still, some US companies have insisted on the ban, including Tiffany & Co, which in March 2005 said it was not buying stones from Myanmar.
Michael Kowalski, CEO & CEO, said: "We support democratic reforms and put an end to human rights abuses in the country, and we believe our customers agree with this position."

Aung Din, American Burma campaign founder called it a good policy.

"Burmese mining (Myanmar) supports the prevailing dictator during the bleeding of Burmese people, so no one can buy these gems," said Irrawaddy magazine in Thailand.

Gemstones are currently the main source of revenue for the military government.
According to Myanmar government data, in 2004, the second part of the two official auctions was $ 22 million, which is held twice a year since 1992.

until 1964, when it was an informal gathering. Then in 1992, in order to get more of the gems, the generals held two pieces each year under the mining ministry.

But this was the official sale. The Government of Myanmar does not get anything from stones that have been smuggled into Thailand.

"There are two ways to get stones from Burma. One is to deal with the Burmese government at the auctions. The other is to deal with those who smuggle across Thailand at the border. Bangkok gem dealer.

It doesn't seem that the Yangon generals are pulling the net tightly, and the colored stones continue to move well from the country and the world market.


For more information, see the Burmese Gems [http://gemdreamz.com] and Jewelry [http: // jewelry]

Source by Darren Mac

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