"The junta's exports lose their sparkle." This dazzling headline appeared
in the weekend FT, and it led the reader to an article about a "first
ever." "Jewellers are leading a western corporate boycott of the regime,
following the recent crackdown," reads the sub-head. The regime is the
government of Burma.
The story is unusual because the boycott was begun and is being
maintained by corporations in the high price jewelry trade, especially in
rubies and jade, which provided the cash-starved regime with at least $300
million from its own gem auctions. So how did the privately-initiated
According to the FT writer Amy Kazmin, "...after watching television images
of Burmese soldiers attacking civilians and monks, executives of Cartier,
the French luxury brand, decided it was time to take a stand. Within days,
they were telling their cutstone suppliers that they would not buy any more
gems mined in Burma and would conduct random checks to ensure that the
stones they did buy were not coming from there."
Actually the commercial boycott of Burma gems started in America, with
Tiffany's in 2002. Jewelers of America, which represents several large
chains including Kay Jewelers, had joined the boycott and is trying to get
Congress to close a loophole in a U.S. ban that has allowed Burmese stones
to enter the country via third countries.
Bulgari, the high class Italian jeweler which does much business in
America, has also joined in the sanctions.
The regime has taken a Burma shave.
Another story by Kazmin adjactent to the one mentioned above is about how
the boycott is being extended by stern measures in Australia and by a
ban on Bagan Airlines. It would help if Singapore were to close the
airline down, as should Thailand.