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Myanmar Foreign Investment Tracking Project FAQ

Creating a public database on foreign companies investing in Myanmar and their human rights commitments

24 November 2014 – Starting this week, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre will be inviting foreign companies investing in Myanmar to respond publicly to a series of questions about their human rights commitments. The record of which companies will and will not respond – and links to the responses – will be made publicly available on our website in January 2015.

Why are we undertaking this project?

The recent increase in foreign business in Myanmar could put human rights at risk if left unguarded. 

The project was designed to respond to the need for increased transparency and information disclosure as a first step to ensuring that foreign companies conduct their business in Myanmar responsibly.  It aims to ensure that stakeholders, especially local people, have access to human-rights related information on companies and are able to engage with these companies in the manner they see appropriate.  It also provides an opportunity for companies to communicate the steps they are taking to advance human rights in their business.

(See below for an initiative that seeks to increase transparency by local Myanmar business).

What questions will we ask companies?

We will ask companies to provide information on the nature of their investment in Myanmar, including the geographic areas and communities they will affect.  We will seek information on their policies and procedures to prevent their business activities from contributing to human rights abuse; or the steps they are taking to develop these policies and procedures.  We will also ask who in the companies are responsible for ensuring compliance with these policies, and who stakeholders could contact for concerns about the company’s investment.

Based on each company’s sector or industry, we will also ask about specific policies in areas such as: freedom of association and collective bargaining, workplace health and safety, living wages, child labour, forced labour, anti-discrimination, the environment, land rights, resettlement, privacy, and conflict.

How did we choose which companies to contact?

We developed our list of companies based on publicly available media, company or other information identifying specific companies as making or considering investment in Myanmar; with particular focus on the following sectors: technology, telecom & electronics, oil & gas, mining, energy, agribusiness, manufacturing (including automobile, clothing & textile, footwear, food & beverage), construction, finance & banking, audit & consulting, tourism, and hotels.  We also welcomed information from local groups on known foreign investors in their respective areas, and added them to our list after verification through publicly available sources.

We are initially contacting over 100 companies, with headquarters anywhere in the world outside of Myanmar.  We may continue adding companies to the list for the duration of the tracking project (until March 2015).

How does the project complement with other existing projects that promote transparency and improved access to information among companies in Myanmar?

This project complements other existing transparency projects by providing free, publicly available information on human rights policies and procedures of foreign Myanmar investors – which civil society groups and others may use alongside information from other groups that focus on other areas of investment.  Examples of these initiatives include:

Investment Watch: Burma/Myanmar, EIRIS: enables investors to identify companies investing or considering investments in Myanmar and to help assess how these companies are managing the risks associated with conflict.

Survey of beneficial ownership of oil & gas companies, Global Witness: surveys the 47 winners of the 2013 and 2014 oil and gas blocks for details on their beneficial owners.

Transparency in Myanmar Enterprises/Pwint Thit Sa, Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business: encourages increased transparency by local Myanmar businesses in the areas of anti-corruption, organizational transparency, human rights, health, safety and the environment.

US Reporting Requirements on Responsible Investment in Burma, United States Government: required reporting for any US person who invests $500,000 or more in Myanmar, or invests in Myanmar’s oil and gas sector.

Further information about this project is available in English here, and in Myanmar here.