Gem prices in Kachin State have been plummeting since the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, with merchants forced to sell off their stock at half of the regular rates.
Tin Tin Nwe, the owner of an amber shop in the Kachin State capital, Myitkyina, told KNG with so few customers she can’t turn a profit. “Before the outbreak, many came from different regions to shop in Myitkyina and sales were good. But after that, authorities restricted travel. No-one is coming, causing the prices to drop dramatically. For example, an item worth 50,000 kyat (US$38) is now sold for 20,000 (US$15) kyat. We’ve lost a lot.”
Yitnang Ze Lum, chair of Kachin State Gem Business Association, said the gem business is slow. “In the past, foreigners came to buy gemstones here. We now have only a handful of domestic buyers and prices are down 40 percent.”
He wants the local government to help the gem sellers and the associations that are suffering.
The gem industry in Kachin State depends on Chinese buyers, but with the border closed due to the pandemic, the markets are empty of their most valuable customers. Last March, only a handful of Chinese buyers attended the famous jade auction in Myitkyina.
MoHS reported 4,299 transmissions on September 18, while 944 have recovered and 68 died. Most of the transmissions are in Yangon Division and Rakhine State.