US and UK impose sanctions on companies controlled by the Burmese military | Business and economic news

The US and UK actions on Thursday were the biggest to date against the Myanmar military’s broad business interests, which include telecommunications, mining and real estate.

The US and UK on Thursday imposed sanctions on conglomerates controlled by the Burmese military, following the coup and the deadly crackdown by the Burmese generals on February 1, with Washington calling the move “violence. and heinous abuse ”.

The US Treasury Department said its sanctions targeted Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Ltd (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation Ltd (MEC).

The UK has imposed similar sanctions on MEHL, citing serious human rights violations committed by the Burmese military against Rohingya Muslims.

Representatives of the two entities, which control large parts of Myanmar’s economy, made no immediate comment.

Thursday’s actions were by far the most significant against the Burmese military’s business interests, which range from beer and cigarettes to telecommunications, tires, mining and real estate.

Shortly after the announcement, the US State Department condemned the continued use of lethal force by Myanmar authorities over the weekend, which resulted in the deaths of at least 27 people, including several children. .

“These heinous and brutal acts against children, a child as young as seven who was gunned down in his house while sitting on his father’s lap, further demonstrate the horrific nature of the military regime’s assault Burmese against its own people, ”said US state department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Washington’s move freezes all assets held by entities in the United States and is the latest in a series of sanctions following the military takeover that targeted Myanmar’s central bank as well as key generals.

The designation prohibits US companies or citizens from negotiating or carrying out financial transactions with those listed.

Since nearly all dollar payments go through U.S. financial institutions, this move effectively kicks blacklisted businesses out of the U.S. banking system.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Burmese military “has taken increasingly worrying action against its own citizens since February 1”.

“These actions will specifically target those who carried out the coup, the economic interests of the army and the sources of funding supporting the brutal repression of the Burmese army,” he said. “They are not directed against the Burmese people.”

“The United States and the United Kingdom have shown that we will keep our promises to promote accountability for the coup and the heinous violence and other abuses that we have seen in recent weeks,” said Blinken.

In a hearing in the US Senate, Senator Ed Markey, Democratic chairman of the Asia subcommittee, said he welcomed the latest sanctions but called for more.

“More must be done to deprive the military of its economic lifeline and deny it the weapons of war. The United States should play a leading role in urging our partners and allies, including ASEAN members, to take action to cut funding for the military, ”he said, referring to to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Human rights groups hailed the US move, but also called for more action.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the sanctions would create significant difficulties for conglomerates to do business with outside companies.

“This is a very important step, but it is not the biggest economic sanction that could be implemented,” said HRW’s director of advocacy for Asia, John Sifton, adding that Washington should also target Myanmar’s revenues from natural gas joint ventures with international companies.

Global Witness urged the European Union to also impose sanctions on the military’s business interests and said the UK should follow the US in targeting MEC.

In announcing the sanctions, the United States issued several licenses providing exemptions for official transactions of the United States government and those of international and non-governmental organizations. A license authorized the transactions necessary to liquidate activities involving MEC and MEHL – or any entity they owned – until June 22.

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