A three-day pearl auction, sponsored by the state-run Myanmar Pearl Enterprise (MPE), is underway, attracting dozens of foreign pearl traders.
A total of 515 pearl lots and 94,319 pearls weighing 56,188.55 mommis are being sold through tender system at the Myanmar Pearl Auction-2007 which began on Thursday, said sources with the MPE under the Ministry of Mines.
Meanwhile, Myanmar has introduced some measures to boost pearl sale, outlining them as increasing the size of pearls cultured by the enterprise, boosting pearl output in Myanmar waters and fixing reasonable prices for the pearls to attract foreign merchants.
According to official statistics, under an oyster breeding program, Myanmar produced nearly 400,000 units (about 200,000 mommis) of cultured pearls in 2006, 30 percent up from 2005.
Oysters are bred along Myanmar's southern coast mainly on Pearl Island, Mali Island and Shwe Island.
Myanmar, which specializes in producing South Sea Pearls, possesses a total pearl production area of 25,600 square- kilometers. The country started yielding pearls in 1956.
Cultured pearl production, which is undertaken at farms in Myeik Archipelago in southern Tanintharyi division, has been up sharply since 1992 when the government launched a campaign to encourage more domestic and foreign investment in the sector.
Of the six pearl producers in the country, there are Myanmar- foreign joint ventures involving companies from Japan, Australia and Thailand. Of them, the Myanmar-Japan partnership represents the biggest producer with an investment of about 8.47 million U.S. dollars, according to the MPE.
Pearl lots, along with locally-produced quality gems, jade and jewelry, are sold at the country's regular gems emporiums, which are held up to three times a year in recent years through a sale system ranging from sealed tender to competitive bidding.