Companies and investors need to do better than existing laws require if they are to act responsibly in the new Burma, Joanne Bauer says
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Author: Joanne Bauer, CSRwire
What does it mean to invest in Burma so as to be a force for good and not bad?...Aung San Suu Kyi defined bad as fueling corruption and inequality, and good as creating jobs and training workers...[T]he onus is on companies to act responsibly, reduce risks, avoid complicity in rights abuses...Here is what corporate responsibility in Burma looks like: “Enhanced due diligence” particularly with respect to land acquisition...The UN Guiding Principles specify that certain contexts – weak governance or armed conflict - call for “enhanced due diligence”...Aung San Suu Kyi’s call for jobs means creating decent work opportunities with labor rights protections, including ensuring non-discrimination towards ethnic minorities...Companies need to invest in ways that genuinely enhance the lives of the Burmese people...Tax avoidance, paying diminished or no taxes even if allowed by law, denies the government of revenue to deliver services and infrastructure that can improve the lives of ordinary Burmese...
Author: Chris Nolan, BSR
[T]he U.S. suspension of economic sanctions...opened the flood gates for U.S. companies to...search of business opportunities in...[Myanmar]...[H]uman rights and policy advocacy organizations have decried the U.S. government’s decision...Some stakeholders believe businesses from the U.S. and European Union have used the suspension of sanctions to quickly pivot focus away from human rights in order to avoid compromising potential business deals...Business should promote commitments to international standards with the Myanmar government and support legal reforms and enforcement mechanisms... And when national leaders take a step sideways or backwards, business should...hold them accountable...This isn’t the time for business as usual.
Author: Jeremy Prepscius, BSR, in Guardian [UK]
If today's market entry issues are not understood there is little to stop Burma becoming the new Cambodia or Vietnam – the next low cost manufacturing base in South East Asia...Today companies need to marry their business risk with their own pre-existing social, environmental and governance indicators; entering a country like Burma requires serious considerations and commitments to responsible corporate practice...[W]hat manufacturing companies can do to support development beyond low cost manufacturing – and what does Burma need to do to attract it?...Companies need to establish and make public responsible investment criteria that guides whether and how an investment is made...Burma is likely to start out as a low cost hub, but its overall trajectory could be towards higher value-add, better paying jobs and a diversified labour market...