21 Jan 2022, 23:25

Myanmar: Growing number of foreign firms head for door

  PARIS, Jan 21, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - The announcements Friday by

TotalEnergies and Chevron have swelled the ranks of foreign firms
which have quit Myanmar after the February military coup.

   As the civilian death toll from the military crackdown has
surpassed 1,500 people, activists have ratcheted up pressure on
foreign firms.

   Investors piled into the country after the military relaxed its
iron grip in 2011, paving the way for democratic reforms and economic
liberalisation in the country of more than 50 million people.

   They poured money into telecommunications, infrastructure,
manufacturing and construction projects.

   Now they face either pulling up sticks like TotalEnergies and
Chevron, suspending operations, or continuing with business as usual.

   - Pulling up sticks -

   The decisions by TotalEnergies and Chevron to leave were
significant as the more than $1 billion in fees and taxes they paid to
operate the Yadana gas field in the Andaman were Myanmar's single
largest source of foreign currency revenue, according Human Rights

   Last year, Norway's Telenor announced it would sell off its Myanmar
subsidiary, which was had one on the nation's largest mobile phone
networks, although the deal has yet to be finalised.

   This week it sold its stake in a Burmese digital payments service.

   British American Tobacco, which employed more than 100,000 people
in Myanmar before the coup, pulled up sticks in October.

   French renewable energy firm Voltalia has also left.

   - Suspending operations -

   Japanese carmaker Toyota, which was due to launch manufacturing at
a Myanmar factory last year, put the project on hold.

   Myanmar factories became suppliers of many popular clothing brands
over the past decade, but groups like Italy's Benetton stopped placing
new orders after the coup.

   French energy giant EDF has suspended its involvement in a
$1.5-billion project to build a hydroelectric dam, Shweli-3, alongside
consortium partners, Marubeni of Japan and Ayeyar Hinthar of Myanmar.

   - Staying or stuck -

   Shortly after the military takeover, Japan's Suzuki suspended
production at its two Myanmar factories but then quickly reopened the
facilities which assemble vehicles for the local market.

   French hotel group Accor, which has eight hotels in Myanmar, said
last year it had no intention to leave or break off its partnership
with its local partner.

   Japanese brewer Kirin has been trying for months to end its
business ties with the Myanmar military, with which it operates two

   After talks hit a wall, it launched arbitration proceedings in
Singapore in December.

   Meanwhile, Denmark's Carlsberg, which employs around 450 people in
the country, has said it has reduced output as consumption has
declined, but not announced any plans to leave.


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