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Old 11-30-2011, 09:24 PM   #1
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Default Clinton evaluates Burma firsthand

USA Today - Found 2 hours ago
BEIJING ?? Hillary Rodham Clinton touched down Wednesday in Burma to judge for herself the changes that pushed President Obama to make Clinton the first U.S. secretary of State to visit this isolated, impoverished nation in more than 50 years. "I am obviously looking to determine for myself and on ...
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Clinton evaluates Burma firsthand
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Old 04-22-2012, 10:40 PM   #2
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Economy grew at 5.5% in spite of sanctions...

Did economic sanctions play a role in Burma's reform?
22 April 2012 - Tourism to sites like the Shwedagon pagoda contributed to Burma's economic growth last year
As a reward for those reforms and to encourage more of the same, foreign ministers from the European Union are set to suspend economic sanctions against the South East Asian nation. But what role, if any, did economic restrictions play in steering the military government onto the path of reform? Last year, in spite of the sanctions, the Burmese economy grew 5.5%, an increase on the previous year. To a large extent, that was thanks to sustained investment from neighbours China and Thailand, coupled with a leap in tourist numbers.

The current sanctions regimen against Burma was assembled incrementally over two decades, as the world reacted to the continued house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi and several brutal crackdowns on protesters. Europe's own restrictions are not the most stringent. While the US introduced a comprehensive package of trade and financial sanctions, the EU always stopped short of a ban on all business with Burma. Instead, targeted sanctions imposed visa restrictions and froze the assets of leading members of the Burmese government and military. Investment was also prohibited in companies with known links to those individuals. Listed in a long EU directive, they range from soap and juice factories to luxury golf courses.

'Pathetic' measures

But when big money was at stake, high principle was put to one side. Since 1992, the French energy giant Total has, in partnership with Chevron, invested billions of dollars in gas fields and pipelines 60km (37.3 miles) off the Burmese coast. Activists say much of the revenue raised has gone directly into the pockets of the military. In 2007, in the wake of worldwide outrage at the brutal ending of the 2007 protests dubbed the "saffron revolution", EU sanctions on the Burmese authorities were expanded. Once again, energy was conveniently excluded, even as trade and investment restrictions were imposed on the timber, gem and precious metals sectors.

"Pathetic" is how Mark Farmaner, the director of Burma Campaign UK, describes the European measures. He would like to have seen restrictions also put in place on financial services such as insurance, which would have hampered Asian companies wanting to invest. Despite that, he still believes the sanctions have had an impact, and has argued against their hasty removal. "It's clear because government officials are constantly complaining about sanctions that they are causing them pain," he said. "They've got economic problems and they realise they are being left behind and the rest of Asia is moving ahead without them."

Diplomatic stalemate

Last edited by waltky; 04-22-2012 at 10:42 PM.
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