(NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) – A delegation representing the United States gemstone and jewelry industry visited Myanmar (Burma) in October to discuss bilateral trade between the two countries. Led by American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) President Jeffrey Bilgore, AGTA CEO Douglas Hucker, Jewelers of America (JA) President & CEO David J. Bonaparte, and Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) Dr. Jim Shigley, the trip’s main purpose was re-establishing direct lines of commerce between Myanmar and the United States. Also joining the delegation was Timothy Haake of Haake/Fetzer, senior counsel to JA, and the Inle Advisory Group, a Myanmar-centric business consulting firm.
“Our goal in coming here is to demonstrate that the gem sector in Myanmar is as worthy as any in the world, and that responsible commerce can only help all of us improve and make democracy stronger,” said Bilgore.
“We are here to share with the people of Myanmar what our U.S. trade associations do to ensure product integrity, increase consumer confidence, and maintain responsible supply chains,” added Bonaparte.
The delegation met with a wide range of stakeholders in Myanmar from the gemstone industry, government and civil society. The trip also included visits to observe mining conditions and practices in Mogok.
This is the first meeting between U.S. and Myanmar gemstone and jewelry representatives since President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. will lift the remaining economic sanctions on the country.