Rights group wary of Myanmar investments

Oct. 11, 2012 at 7:47 AM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Advocacy group EarthRights International called on the U.S. government to ensure companies investing in Myanmar respect environmental and human rights.

The U.S. Treasury Department in September announced it repealed sanctions on financial institutions in Myanmar, known formerly as Burma. Washington, starting in June, began easing sanctions on the country in response to political reforms that developed after general elections in 2010.

Officials from French energy company Total were in Myanmar in June to discuss prospects in the energy sector. The company said that, as of 2007, Myanmar was producing around 180,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, with 90 percent of that represented by natural gas.

Human Rights Watch had said the White House should link rights issues to oil and natural gas investments. The group said it appears Washington "caved to industry pressure" by its decision to allow deals with the state-owned oil Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise.

EarthRights International said it has "deep concerns" about any investments in the country that don't come with non-military or similar transparency guarantees.

The group said, in a statement, that it "strongly urges the administration to incorporate internationally recognized best practices to provide more meaningful disclosure and use this opportunity to set a model for responsible investment in Burma."

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