Hpakant jade sales thrive as Mandalay market slumps

Jade traders in Mandalay say Chinese buyers are becoming an increasingly rare sight, as many seem to be buying directly from the mines in Hpakant.

The jade market in Mandalay has been struggling since 2014 and neared collapse in 2015 with few buyers to be seen, said traders at the Maha Aung Myay Gems Trading Centre, the city’s largest emporium which features more than 1000 shops.

Trader Ko Soe Nyunt said fewer and fewer Chinese buyers have been visiting the centre. Without buyers there have been very few transactions, and prices are falling, he said.

“We can’t offer the prices we want, and supply is stockpiling while we wait for a good price,” he added.

Lower-grade jade tends to be sold to the markets in Mandalay, while higher-quality stones are sold directly from the mines in Hpakant and taken across the border to China. The largest pieces are mostly smuggled across the border untaxed and taken to markets in Yunnan province or Guangdong province.

Ko Soe Nyunt said Chinese buyers seem increasingly eager to buy in Hpakant.

“I returned from Hpakant just two weeks ago and saw a lot of Chinese buyers there. The Hpakant market is lively now and prices are also good,” he said.

“Two years ago, we could make a healthy profit. But profits are down since 2014. We have to pay the cost of cutting jade into jewellery, and have sold some items at a loss,” said trader Ko Wai Phyo Thu.

Ko Soe Thu who sells jade crystals in the centre said he hopes the market will improve. “But I dare not hope too much,” he said.

For trader Ko Kyaw Zaw, “The market has been bad for almost two years now. We’re hoping it will bounce back at the end of April.” His hopes are pinned on the incoming government, led by the National League for Democracy.

“Generally, we don’t see many transactions during the period from Chinese New Year until the end of the Thingyan water festival. We are hoping the market will recover at the end of April. It’s best if the market bounces back with good prices,” he added.


Source: Myanmar Times

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