US Congress Approves Legislation to Bar Myanmar Gems

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The US Congress on Tuesday sent legislation to President George W. Bush seeking to block import of gems from Myanmar, in a move to deprive its ruling junta of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue.

The Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act, passed by the Senate Tuesday and by the House of Representatives last week, will keep the gems, including jade and rubies, from entering US markets via third-party countries.

Despite a longstanding ban on all Myanmar imports, gems from the impoverished country have entered the United States via third nations such as Thailand, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore, rights groups have said.

The gems trade is one of the most lucrative sources of profit for the military rulers, accused of blatant human rights abuses and stifling democratic opposition.

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