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Burma Opens Gem Auction to Generate Foreign Currency


Burma's government has opened a gem auction, where it says it hopes to earn 75 million dollars in sales to foreign buyers.

The nation's military government holds the trade fairs twice each year as a key source of foreign currency.

The managing director of the state-run gem authority Thein Swe says the latest fair in Rangoon will feature nearly 5,000 gems, including jade, pearls and raw stones.

He says the fair will draw buyers from China, Thailand and eight other nations. Some Western gem dealers also are expected to attend, despite sanctions by Western governments against trade with Burma.

Western officials have repeatedly criticized Burma for human rights abuses and the lack of democratic reforms.

Information for this report is provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

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