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Myanmar

Volume 697: debated on Monday 21 June 2021

The UK condemns the coup in Myanmar in the strongest possible terms and we continue to stand with the people of Myanmar as they face increased levels of intimidation, violence, suppression, and arbitrary detention from the military regime.

The UK has been at the forefront of the international response, most recently securing a statement on Myanmar in the G7 Leader’s communiqué on 13 June. We also secured a G7 commitment to prevent flow of arms to Myanmar, a commitment which was echoed in the UN General Assembly resolution of 18 June.

Today we are announcing further measures to target the military and its financial interests.

Sanctions

The UK has worked in close collaboration with partners to implement effective and targeted sanctions. On 29 April we laid new Myanmar (Sanctions) Regulations 2021, to give us broader powers to target the Myanmar military and its business interests.

Today, the UK is announcing its sixth tranche of sanctions since the coup and the second under our new regulations. New designations will target Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) and Myanmar Pearl Enterprise (MPE), two state-owned entities in Myanmar’s extractive sector, which generate millions of pounds in revenue for the junta. We are also designating the State Administration Council (SAC), the junta’s governing body, to send a clear message to the regime that we oppose the coup and associated human rights violations.

These designations build on the UK’s continued efforts to target the military’s economic infrastructure and revenue streams used to finance brutal human rights violations and repression of the civilian population. On 17 May we announced the designation of Myanmar Gems Enterprise under our new regulations. We have also listed Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited and Myanmar Economic Corporation, two military conglomerates under our Global Human Rights regime.

Trade review

Since February we have conducted an extensive series of engagements with UK businesses and trade bodies conducting business within Myanmar, and have undertaken due diligence on the operations of the Department for International Trade (DIT) and our partners in the country.

We will retain our suspension on trade promotion and are reiterating that UK businesses should not enter into relationships that benefit the military and must remain compliant with the UK sanctions regime. Further, we expect British businesses to adhere to and work with suppliers who comply with standards of responsible business conduct, including respecting human rights.

Through this review we have determined that no sector can be classified as completely free from military associations and that some, such as the extractive industries, have a particularly high level of association. Sectors in which DIT has historically offered trade support do not fall into this category of high-level exposure.

Equally, we recognise that the complete withdrawal of all international businesses from Myanmar would deepen the collapse of the economy, risk increasing regional instability, and above all negatively impact the most vulnerable in society.

The overseas business risk guidance, published today, provides further clarity on issues raised by businesses throughout the trade review process, recognising the complex and unique challenges organisations face in these circumstances. In particular, we have made it clear that UK businesses procuring natural resources from Myanmar must do enhanced due diligence on their supply chain. DIT and embassy staff in Yangon remain available to assist UK businesses in remaining compliant with their obligations.

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