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Burma: Overseas Trade

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 25 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what trade exists between the UK and Burma; what the value is of such trade; and if he will make a statement. (160973)

We do not actively monitor business activities in Burma. However, we do follow reports on such activities produced by the UN, non-governmental organisations and other organisations. We monitor the level of UK corporate activities through statistics from the Office for National Statistics and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which show that trade and investment in Burma has fallen in recent years.

In terms of total imports of goods from Burma, the UK currently ranks second in the EU after Germany. However, the value of imports from Burma to the UK halved between 2004 and 2005. In the first eight months of 2007 the UK imported £19 million worth of goods from Burma and exported £2 million.

The Government have a long-standing policy of discouraging British firms from trading with, or investing in, Burma. We offer no commercial services to companies wishing to trade or invest there.

The UK has been working hard with its partners in the EU on further restrictions on commercial engagement with Burma to reduce funding sources available to the regime. EU Foreign Ministers met on 15 October and agreed to strengthen measures against the regime. The new measures include an export ban on equipment to the sectors of logs and timber and mining of metals, minerals, precious and semi precious stones; an import ban of products of the sectors mentioned before; and an investment ban in these sectors.