December 3, 2001

The Burma Campaign UK (BCUK) has welcomed an initiative, launched today by eight investment funds, which highlights Burma as a country posing unique problems for foreign investors. However, BCUK fears the initiative may fall short of achieving its objectives.
The eight institutions, including Morley Fund Management, Henderson Global Investors and Friends Ivory and Sime, represent £400 billion of investment. They have issued a statement outlining the risks for companies working in Burma, which includes the threat of international boycotts, corruption and loss of shareholder confidence. “The funds have given a clear warning that there are serious risks and repercussions for companies who choose to work in Burma, and this is very welcome”, says John Jackson, Director of BCUK. However, Jackson believes the recommendations made by the funds will not protect shareholders or companies active in Burma: “Their analysis is good, but their recommendations aren’t far reaching enough. Given the risks, they should be calling for disinvestment. You simply can’t achieve ‘good practice’ in Burma’s highly repressive political environment. You can’t operate in Burma without financing its appalling dictatorship. We will continue to name, shame and campaign against any company with a presence in Burma.”
Burma is ruled by one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships. Foreign investment in the country has allowed the regime to expand and arm its 450,000 strong military. The regime spends between 30 – 40% of its budget each year on ‘defence’ while Burma, once one of the richest countries in Asia, has become one of the poorest.
The investment funds’ initiative comes a week after BCUK launched a public campaign against Triumph International for its production of garments in Burma. BCUK has succeeded in forcing Burton, BHS, River Island and others to stop sourcing in Burma. The campaign expects similar success with its campaign against Triumph.
BCUK has also had success in lobbying the UK government on the issue of Premier Oil. The UK company is involved in a gas project with the Burmese junta. The project has resulted in the escalation of human rights abuse for people in the project area, as well as providing revenue for the military. The UK government has taken the unprecedented step of calling on Premier to pull out of Burma.
Burma’s international pro-democracy movement has persuaded or forced a large number of western companies to disinvest. These include: Texaco, Heineken, Carlsberg, Apple, Levi Strauss, Erricson, Sara Lee and Tommy Hilfigger.
For more information contact:
John Jackson 0207 281 7377 (mobile) 07961 357 391
http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk


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