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U.S. warns of heightened businesses risks in Myanmar

U.S. warns of heightened businesses risks in Myanmar
Myamar citizens march in protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, on February. 28, 2021. On Thursday, the Biden administration issued an advisory warning against doing business in the Asian nation. File Photo by Xiao Long/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the military seizing control of Myanmar in a coup, the Biden administration is warning Americans about the heightened risk of doing business in the Asian nation.

The Tatmadaw ousted civilian-elected leadership of the Southeast Asian country on Feb. 1, 2020, citing fraud in an election that saw Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League Democracy Party win by a landslide.

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After arresting Suu Kyi and other political leaders, the military installed itself at the country's helm as the State Administrative Council but was met with public opposition that it attempted to thwart with an oppressive crackdown that continues.

According to Myanmar's Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, 1,494 people have been killed as of Wednesday by the junta with another 8,783 are currently detained by the authorities.

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In response, the United States and Western allies including the European Union, Canada and Britain have repeatedly sanctioned Myanmar, junta officials and government entities.

On Wednesday, the U.S. departments of State, Commerce, Homeland Security and Labor as well as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Treasury issued an advisory to Americans as well as U.S. businesses and financial institutions of heightened risks with doing business in the country.

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Those who do business in the country threaten to expose themselves to "significant repetitional, financial and legal risk, including violations of U.S. anti-money laundering laws and sanctions, as well as abetting human rights abuses," State Department spokesperson Ned Price warned in a statement.

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Price said the United States does not seek to "curtail legitimate" business and investment in Myanmar. However, "[t]he military regime has undermined the rule of law, facilitated widespread corruption and committed serious human rights abuses, which exacerbate risks to foreign businesses operating in Burma or providing financial services to Burmese businesses."

State-owned enterprises, gems and precious metals, real estate and construction projects and arms, military equipment and related activity were identified in the advisory as being primary economic sources of the junta.

The risks of doing business in Myanmar include corruption, forced and child labor, surveillance and Internet freedom restrictions as well as human rights abuses.

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Myanmar also faces "significant" money laundering risks, it said.

"These risks have likely only increased since the coup and as such, financial institutions are encouraged to reconsider Burma's deficiencies in their risk analysis," it said.

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