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U.S. warns of heightened risks associated with business in Myanmar

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By Reuters
U.S. warns of heightened risks associated with business in Myanmar
U.S. warns of heightened risks associated with business in Myanmar   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

WASHINGTON – The United States on Wednesday issued a business advisory for Myanmar, warning of heightened risks associated with doing business in the country especially when the military is involved, nearly a year after a the army took power in a coup.

The advisory warned that businesses should be wary of illicit finance risks as well as reputational and legal risks of doing business and utlizing supply chains under Myanmar military control.

“The coup and subsequent abuses committed by the military have fundamentally changed the direction of the economic and business environment in Burma,” the advisory said.

Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup on Feb. 1 last year, after complaining of fraud in a November 2020 general election won by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. Election monitoring groups found no evidence of mass fraud.

The junta has been fighting on multiple fronts since seizing power, cracking down with deadly force on protests while intensifying operations against ethnic minority armies and newly formed militias allied with the ousted government.

“The return of military rule in Burma brings with it high levels of public corruption and a deficient anti-money laundering regime,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement.

The advisory cited state-owned enterprises, gems and precious metals, real estate and construction projects and arms, military equipment and related activity as entities and sectors of greatest concern in the country, adding that they have been identified as providing economic resources for the junta.

The advisory said state-owned enterprises, including Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise and Myanma Timber Enterprise, played a large role in the country’s economy and generate about half of the junta’s revenue.

The advisory comes after oil majors TotalEnergies and Chevron Corp, partners in a major gas project in Myanmar, said last week they were withdrawing from the country https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/french-company-totalenergies-withdraws-myanmar-2022-01-21, citing the worsening humanitarian situation following the coup.