1 / 24

Myanmar's jade empire

Hand-pickers search for jade through rubble dumped by mining companies at a jade mine in Hpakant township, Kachin State July 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Minzayar)

Myanmar's jade empire

September 30, 2013

Almost half of all jade sales are "unofficial" - that is, spirited over the border into China with little or no formal taxation.

This represents billions of dollars in lost revenues that could be spent on rebuilding a nation shattered by nearly half a century of military dictatorship.

Official statistics confirm these missing billions. Myanmar produced more than 43 million kg of jade in fiscal year 2011/12 (April to March).

Even valued at a conservative $100 per kg, it was worth $4.3 billion. But official exports of jade that year stood at only $34 million. (Reuters)