Burma Sanctions Lifted—Except on Rubies and Jade

Despite warming relations between Burma and the United States, importing Burmese rubies or jade remains illegal.

On Nov. 16, the State and Treasury Departments lifted sanctions on a variety of products from Burma—but left ruby and jade off the list.

The removal of sanctions “does not affect the existing prohibitions and restrictions on the importation of jadeite and rubies mined or extracted from Burma, and on articles of jewelry containing them,” said a State Department release. “We are committed to working with the Government of Burma to address these concerns.”

Rob Headley, chief operating officer of Jewelers of America, says that removal of the ban will require legislative action, since the products were blocked by the Tom Lantos JADE Act, which passed in 2008. The other sanctions were lifted by an executive order from the president.

Doug Hucker, CEO of the American Gem Trade Association, says his group is working with members and elected officials to remove the ban.

“While there are some critical tasks facing the current lame duck Congress, it is not uncommon to see single issue legislation such as this addressed in the end of year frenzy to get work accomplished,” he says. “We certainly feel that the progress the government of Myanmar has made in instituting democratic change in their country warrants the easing of these restrictions, a position that is supported by Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy that she chairs.”