26 Jan 2022, 23:04

US warns firms over doing business in Myanmar

  WASHINGTON, Jan 26, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - The US government warned

companies Wednesday to be extremely wary of doing business in Myanmar,
citing the risks of being linked to a military government involved in
lawlessness and human rights abuse.

  Those involved with businesses controlled by the military regime
"run the risk of engaging in conduct that may expose them to
significant reputational, financial, and legal risks," including
breaking sanctions and money-laundering laws, according to a statement
from six cabinet-level departments.

  Investors and traders were warned specifically to avoid state-owned
enterprises, the gems and precious metals sector, real estate and
construction projects, and the arms business.

  "These entities and sectors have been identified as primary
industries providing economic resources for Burma's military regime,"
the statement said, using the former popular name for the country.

  The statement noted that the European Union and other countries have
also placed restrictions on doing business with Myanmar since the
military seized power in a coup one year ago and has since conducted a
campaign of severe and deadly repression against a popular opposition

  "The military has unjustly arrested leaders of the democratically
elected government, cut off utilities and travel, and committed
serious human rights abuses and other abuses against individuals in
Burma, including violently suppressing peaceful protests," the
statement said.

  It also noted that Myanmar has not adequately implemented standard
measures to prevent terrorism financing and money laundering, exposing
investors and traders to risks in those areas.

  The statement, signed by the departments of State, Treasury,
Commerce, Labor and Homeland Security and the US Trade Representative,
stressed that it is only an advisory and not a legal order.

  But it comes as a number of key foreign companies that have invested
in the country have withdrawn as the military government continues to
tighten control.

  Last Friday, energy giants TotalEnergies and Chevron announced they
were exiting Myanmar, following other large firms that have pulled out
or frozen investment plans, including Norway's Telenor, British
American Tobacco, Voltalia of France and Toyota.

  "The situation, in terms of human rights and more generally the rule
of law, which have kept worsening in Myanmar... has led us to reassess
the situation," TotalEnergies said last week.


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