Mon. Apr 12th, 2021

Economy & Business

DANANG, VIETNAM - As recently as last year, Myanmar was being touted as an attractive destination for international investors, even in the face of bad publicity over the government’s handling of the crisis in Rakhine State, where almost 1 million Rohingya residents had been massacred or driven into exile.   “While potential investors should be wary of inadvertently supporting the persecution, well-placed investments could yield rewards and spur a developing economy,” wrote the website World Finance – which bills itself as “the voice of the market” – in February 2020.   “The raw materials for a thriving investment climate are all present if businesses are willing to enter the market.”   Fourteen months and one military coup later, foreign governments and companies are scrambling to reassess their relationships with the military junta that seized power on February 1 from the democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.   Human rights activists have mounted a pressure campaign against international companies seen as propping up the regime in Naypyitaw. In March, Burma Campaign UK published “The Dirty List,” a file detailing the role it claims certain international companies have played in assisting the military.     Especially troubling for many investors are their connections with Myanmar Economic Corporation and Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited – both controlled by the now-ruling Burmese military or Tatmadaw, which has long relied on business activities to finance its own operations.   The companies provide funds to the military through a range of enterprises, such as banking, mining, tobacco and tourism. MEHL also provides pensions for members of the Tatmadaw.... Read More