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How to Invest in Myanmar
Doing Well by Doing Right
STANLEY A. WEISS is a global mining executive and the founder of Business Executives for National Security, in Washington, D.C. TIM HEINEMANN is a retired Special Forces officer and a mobile training team leader at the U.S. Department of Defense for counterterrorism professional development of U.S. allies around the world.See more by Stanley A. WeissSee more by Tim Heinemann
For a nation that was frozen in place for half a century by a repressive military junta, it is ironic that the government of Myanmar (also called Burma) is charging that change is not happening fast enough. But that was the scene in November, when government officials seized a multibillion-dollar industrial project in the southern port town of Dawei for its owners’ failure to attract foreign investors in a timely fashion. To restart the project, which had previously been run by a Thai company, Myanmar appealed to government officials and private investors in Japan. The first to bite was the Mitsubishi Corporation, which agreed to build a large, coal-fired plant to generate electricity and kick-start operations.
In the middle of the Dawei drama, a local human rights group, known as the Dawei Development Association, warned Japanese investors that they risked becoming complicit in harming half a million minority residents in the area. The group charged that Myanmar’s government had forced thousands of poor farmers off their land “without fair or equal compensation” or “access to adequate housing or livelihoods after being displaced.”