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Tip-Toeing Toward Transparency: Jade and Gemstone Sector Disclosures in Myanmar

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  • In March 2018, two new reports to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) published detailed information on Myanmar's jade and gemstone industry. This is shedding an unprecedented amount of light on a sector historically shrouded in secrecy.
  • Despite progress, implementation is facing challenges. Nearly half of jade and gemstone companies’ data for fiscal years 2014/15 and 2015/16 were missing, incomplete or irreconcilable with government data.
  • EITI reporting needs to be accurate and actionable in order to facilitate better resource management. Upcoming EITI reports are an opportunity to improve the quality of reporting and further promote transparency and good governance in the sector.

Myanmar exports more than 90 percent of global jade supply and is also a leading source of rubies, sapphires and other colored gemstones. Mining of these precious stones generates billions of dollars annually, making it one of the country’s most significant sectors. However, the industry has remained largely shrouded in secrecy, with most profits flowing to armed groups and political elites rather than supporting broad-based economic and social development.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative process has helped to shine light on the previously opaque jade and gemstone sector. EITI reports have made public new information on who owns the legal rights to extract jade and gemstones, how many stones companies mine and sell each year and the amount of tax the government collects from the sector.

Significant progress notwithstanding, Myanmar’s implementation has been imperfect. EITI disclosures have been limited in scope and accuracy. The analysis in this briefing looks at reporting deficiencies and discrepancies across six key areas:

  1. Coverage of jade and gemstone companies in the EITI scope
  2. Disclosure of jade and gemstone companies’ legal ownership
  3. Disclosure of jade and gemstone mining permits
  4. Reporting of jade and gemstone production
  5. Reporting of jade and gemstone sales
  6. Reporting of jade and gemstone revenue payments

As Myanmar undergoes validation against the EITI standard, this briefing is intended to equip stakeholders in interrogating and correcting apparent inconsistencies in jade and gemstone sector statistics. (For a more detailed and qualitative assessment of jade and gemstone industry tax payments, which are not addressed here, see the forthcoming report “Losing Luster: Addressing Tax Evasion in Myanmar’s Jade and Gemstone Industry.”)