Connect with us

Myanmar

Burmese sanctions likely to stay, despite ASEAN call

Author: Jane Ferguson, ANU Barely months after the highly controversial general elections in Burma, ASEAN has re-visited the issue of lifting international economic sanctions against the country of over 50 million people. Ostensibly intended to isolate the military regime and pressure the country to reform its totalitarian government and improve its humanitarian practices, sanctions arguably have not effected their intended results.

East Asia Forum

Published

on

Abhisit Than Shwe

Barely months after the highly controversial general elections in Burma, ASEAN has re-visited the issue of lifting international economic sanctions against the country of over 50 million people.

Ostensibly intended to isolate the military regime and pressure the country to reform its totalitarian government and improve its humanitarian practices, sanctions arguably have not effected their intended results. This leaves us wondering whether lifting these sanctions could feasibly improve the situation for people in Burma, or conversely, merely allow existing power-holders more business opportunities.

Abhisit Than Shwe

Thailand is second largest investor in Myanmar, after China. But since Than Shwe stepped out in favor of a civilian government, very little has been done to improve human rights situation in Burma

While the recent elections, as well as the release of pro-democracy advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been considered by some, particularly representatives from Thailand, to be sufficient grounds to show that Burma is on its way to reform, other groups, especially the US, are not so eager to lift sanctions.

The US first officially imposed sanctions in 1993, followed by the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, and President Barack Obama renewed its position in 2009. The impetus for sanctions came from international pressure regarding the country’s appalling human rights record, which includes forced relocations, imprisonment of political dissenters, rape, torture, as well as the regime’s refusal to transfer power to the democratically-elected National League for Democracy in 1990.

Recently following the 2011 ASEAN call to lift sanctions, Kurt Campbell, the assistant to the Secretary of State visited Southeast Asia. After consulting with ASEAN representatives, he claimed that lifting the sanctions would be ‘obviously premature.’ Arguably, the recent political changes in Burma are only superficial while other more serious issues persist. Especially in the periphery, there is evidence that the Burma Army seeks not only to increase its forces, but also to clamp down on the power of non-state militias in the area.

Following the regime changes in 1989, and the country’s opening up toward outside investment former peripheral militias, re-configured as Nyein Chan Yay Apwe (Ceasefire Groups) have become massively wealthy, coinciding also with business support from neighbouring China.

This was a regional trend, also exemplified by the former Thai Prime Minister Chatchai Choonhavan’s oft-quoted 1989 agenda to turn Indochina ‘from a battlefield into a marketplace.’ Depending on the regime, Thailand has oscillated regarding its policy regarding economic engagement with its Western neighbour, with investment and cooperation stepped up during the years of Thaksin Shinawatra’s prime-ministership. Perhaps not so surprisingly, China, Thailand, and Singapore refused to join in sanctions against Burma. It is these countries, as well, upon which the Naypyidaw principally depends for foreign income.

The lifting of sanctions, obviously, would facilitate more foreign investment and business in the country and open the country to a broader market. While the government and its closely-affiliated private cronies constitute the major employers in the country, lifting of sanctions has the potential to allow for people to advocate for reform without immediately being concerned about their source of income. However, so long as the United States is basing its stance on political reasons, the likelihood that the country will lift its sanctions is slim. ASEAN and China, however, even prior to the 2010 elections, have demonstrated that they are willing to engage with the Naypyidaw regime regardless.

Dr Jane Ferguson is a Lecturer in the School of Culture, History & Language in the College of Asia & the Pacific at the Australian National University.

  1. ASEAN and the Burmese elections: What are the options?
  2. Burmese elections 2010: Moving beyond Aung San Suu Kyi
  3. Sanctions against North Korea

Go here to see the original:
Burmese sanctions likely to stay, despite ASEAN call

East Asia Forum provides a platform for the best in East Asian analysis, research and policy comment on the Asia Pacific region and world affairs.

Comments

Cambodia

CLMV’s economic growth crashes to two-decade low due to COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has caused the rate of economic growth in the CLMV bloc to be at its lowest in two decades, the CLMV economies could grow at 3.4 percent this year

Avatar

Published

on

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a negative impact on CLMV economies through their dependency on foreign-sourced revenue from tourism and exports says KResearchCenter.

(more…)
Continue Reading

India

Marketing and investment strategies in Myanmar, India

To encourage Thai SME operators to enter the international market, the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (OSMEP) aims to urge them to invade Myanmar, Cambodian, Chinese and Indian markets.

National News Bureau of Thailand

Published

on

Marketing and investment strategies in Myanmar, India

BANGKOK, 26 July 2019 (NNT) – To encourage Thai SME operators to enter the international market, the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (OSMEP) aims to urge them to invade Myanmar, Cambodian, Chinese and Indian markets.

(more…)
Continue Reading

Cambodia

Thailand pushes CLMVT as the “New Value Chain Hub of Asia”

The Ministry of Commerce, in cooperation with 11 relevant agencies, hosted the CLMVT Forum 2019 with delegates from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand

National News Bureau of Thailand

Published

on

BANGKOK, 24 June 2019 (NNT) – Thailand’s Prime Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, today attended the opening of the CLMVT Forum 2019, and urged its member countries to push for the development of the CLMVT Regional Value Chain, so that they can have more bargaining power and improve the well-being of their citizens.

(more…)
Continue Reading

Latest

Most Viewed

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 13,605 other subscribers

Trending