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Burma: Gems

Volume 507: debated on Wednesday 17 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had recent discussions at EU level on the export of gems originating in Burma from Asia to Europe. (322479)

There have been no recent discussions on this issue among EU member states. Sanctions were agreed after the crackdown on peaceful protests in late 2008, and the EU imposed a ban on the import of gems from Burma, as well as prohibiting the provision of financial or technical assistance to entities engaged in the mining and processing of precious and semi-precious stones. These measures target the economic interests of the military regime and their cronies. Discussions will begin shortly in Brussels on the annual renewal of all EU measures against Burma, due at the end of April.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has made a recent assessment of the effectiveness of sanctions designed to prevent the export of gems originating in Burma to the EU. (322480)

Sanctions prohibiting the export of gems from Burma to the EU were introduced after the crackdown on peaceful protests in late 2007, on the basis that the sector played a particular role in sustaining the military and their grip on power. No formal assessment of the effectiveness of the export ban has been made by the Government, but we continue to believe that targeted sanctions are an important means of maintaining pressure for political reform and respect for human rights in Burma.