By CCTV reporter Feng Xin
Myanmar is inviting world investors to join its gold rush. The southeast Asian country announced Wednesday that for the first time it will use international measurement standards to issue gold bars. Myanmar officials say the change will further open their country's gold market to the outside world.
Myanmar will start selling gold with 99.99 percent purity in the international unit, gram, instead of the Myanmar kyat.
Myanmar is awash in a variety of minerals but has kept itself relatively closed to the global gold market. That's because it was using different gold extracting and purifying standards as well as local measurement units. The country also restricted how much gold foreigners could buy.
"Only after people in Myanmar become familiar with and understand such a standard, can the gold produced in Myanmar be sold in the international market. After a period of promotion, more than 60 million Myanmar people will be able to use the standard, and then we can adapt and enter the international market," said U Khin Maung Han of Myanmar Federation of Mining Association.
The end to Myanmar's export ban on selected minerals such as gold won't happen in just one day, though. A 1994 law requires a 30 vs 70 percent profit sharing ratio between a foreign company mining in Myanmar and the government. However, Myanmar plans to loosen restrictions on gold exports in two years.
"Many international investors have entered the country, and they want to buy gold. Whether we can sell or whether they can bring the gold outside of the country will be a big problem. When Myanmar joins the ASEAN Free Trade Area, the government should solve the problem," said Y Kyaw Win, secretary of Myanmar Gold Entrepreneurs' Association.
A Reuters database shows that Myanmar allowed only companies from China, Thailand and South Korea to explore for minerals within its borders as of 2012. Mining companies from Australia and Russia are also involved, but often through third-parties.