1. Burma/Myanmar: the Next (Investment) Frontier?

    For businesses on the forefront of globalization, there haven’t been many opportunities to “go where no one has gone before” in recent years. But there’s hope.

    After nearly 50 years of military rule, Burma’s government has been taking steps toward democratization of the county, including landmark elections this year that saw opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi elected to parliament.

    The international community has responded in kind. Europe, the United States, and Canada have begun to lift long-standing economic and trade barriers that prohibit multinational companies from investing in or doing business with the country.

    For your convenience, a roundup of recent legal advisories on the changing sanctions: 

    United States Eases Sanctions on New Investment in Burma / Myanmar (Foley Hoag LLP)

    “On Thursday, May 17, 2012, President Obama announced that the U.S. would issue a general license easing sanctions on the export of financial services and new investment in Burma, although he did not lift them, meaning that they could be reinstated if there is backsliding on reforms. Although senior Administration officials had previously indicated that sanctions would only be eased on a few industries, the White House today announced that the general license would apply to all new investments in Burma, regardless of industry.” Read the update»

    Burma/Myanmar: The Suspension of EU Sanctions “A New Chapter in Trade and Investment” (Dechert LLP)

    “The European Council on the 14 May adopted Regulation that will give full legal effect to the suspension of EU sanctions against Burma/Myanmar. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has welcomed the announcement as opening ‘a new chapter’ in the EU’s trade and investment relationship with the country. The suspension of EU restrictions follows agreement by European ministers, at the Foreign Affairs Council on 23 April 2012, to re-open trade and investment across a range of sectors including logging, timber processing, and mining of precious stones.” Read the update»

    EU Suspends Most Sanctions Against Burma/Myanmar; US Only Eases Some (White & Case LLP)

    “In response to the ongoing democratic reforms in Burma/Myanmar, the Council of the European Union agreed on April 23, 2012 to suspend all sanctions for one year, but to leave the arms embargo and the embargo on equipment that might be used for internal repression in place. The United States partially eased sanctions against Burma/Myanmar on April 18, 2012 by [authorizing] the export and reexport to Burma/Myanmar of certain financial services by US entities that support specific not-for-profit activities. At present, US sanctions on other types of financial services, investments, imports and dealings with blocked parties remain in place.” Read the update»

    United States Takes First Step in Liberalizing Sanctions on Burma (Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP)

    “In a statement on Burma made on April 4, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced, among other things, that the United States would take measures to enable ‘private organizations in the United States to pursue a broad range of nonprofit activities from democracy building to health and education,’ and would begin ‘the process of a targeted easing of our ban on the export of U.S. financial services and investment as part of a broader effort to help accelerate economic modernization and political reform.’ The new General License represents an important first step toward these goals.” Read the update»

    Burma/Myanmar Sanctions Lifted - New Opportunities for Canadian Business (John Boscariol)

    “Most of Canada’s economic sanctions against Burma (Myanmar) have been repealed effective today. Enacted in 2007 and touted as being among the most aggressive in the world, Canada’s sanctions and export controls prohibited most activities with Burma, including investment, exports and imports, the provision of financial services and technical data, the transiting of ships and aircraft, and dealings with designated persons. These developments will raise new trade and investment opportunities for Canadian business, however firms should proceed with caution as certain restrictions remain in effect.” Read the update»

    United States Eases Sanctions on Financing for Development Organizations in Burma (Foley Hoag LLP)

    “On April 17, the U.S. Treasury issued new General License No. 14-C, which relaxes sanctions on financial services with respect to certain humanitarian and not-for-profit activities in Burma. This License allows financial services to support a broader range of development projects than was previously permitted, and includes: (1) projects to meet basic human needs; (2) democracy building and good governance projects; (3) educational activities; (4) sporting activities; (5) non-commercial development projects directly benefiting the Burmese people; and (6) religious activities.” Read the update»


    Related reading: 

    Floating the Kyat: A First Step in Fighting Corruption in Burma (Foley Hoag LLP) 

    Fools Rush In: Social and Environmental Due Diligence in Burma (Foley Hoag LLP) 


    Looking for more? You’ll find it here»