Jewelers of America (JA), the national trade association for businesses serving the fine jewelry retail marketplace, welcomes the progress that has been made in Myanmar (also called Burma) toward much-needed reforms.
In letters to President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, JA applauded U.S. efforts to bring about change in the country. In particular, JA touted the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act of 2008, which JA supported, that amended the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 to impose import sanctions specifically on Burmese gemstones, among other actions.
“We believe the JADE Act, along with other diplomatic efforts, has been instrumental in bringing about political and economic changes in the country,” wrote JA’s president, Matthew A. Runci.
In January, the United States moved to restore full diplomatic relations with Burma, rewarding the country for reforms that included the loosening of military rule, a cease-fire with ethnic rebels and the release of hundreds of political prisoners.
Runci wrote the JADE Act should remain in effect until the U.S. government believes the Burmese government has taken additional steps toward democratic reform and shown that reforms can be sustained. One important test for the country will be the elections scheduled to take place on April 1.
The letter stated that JA and its members will continue to support all efforts to encourage human rights reforms in Burma.
“As long as there continues to be improvement of relations with the U.S. government and further progress on human rights reforms, JA will look forward to the eventual easing of the ban on precious stones,” Runci concluded.