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31 Jan 2023

Myanmar: Survey of companies that have expressed withdrawal or suspension of operations since the attempted coup

Myanmar protest

Since the attempted coup on 1 February 2021, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (Resource Centre) has been continuously monitoring the concerning human rights situation in Myanmar and the private sector’s response.

As set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), in situations of armed conflict, businesses should conduct enhanced human rights due diligence to identify, prevent, and mitigate heightened risks and adopt a conflict-sensitive approach due to the severe risk of gross human rights abuses. Businesses must also avoid contributing to violations of international humanitarian law.

The Resource Centre invited 26 companies to respond to survey questions. These companies fall under two categories: (1) those which have publicly announced their decision to withdraw their business from Myanmar, and (2) those which have suspended operations following the attempted coup. The purpose of the survey is to monitor the status of the withdrawal or suspension of operations of the surveyed companies and whether their actions were or will be conducted in a responsible manner.

Excluded in the survey are companies from the garment sector. The Resource Centre is monitoring labour and human rights abuses of garment workers across the country since the military takeover through the Myanmar garment worker allegations tracker, which can be accessed here.

Companies invited to respond

Of the 26 companies surveyed, 16 responded. Three companies either asked for an extension or said they were working on responses to the questionnaire. We asked 17 companies about their decision to withdraw from Myanmar, while nine were asked about the status of their decision to suspend operations.

Of the 17 companies that announced withdrawal, six are from the oil and gas sector (Chevron, ENEOS, Petronas, TotalEnergies, Trafigura, and Woodside); three are from the technology and telecommunications sector (Boku, Ooredoo, and Telenor); two are financial institutions (ANZ Bank and the International Finance Corporation [IFC]), and two are conglomerates (Adani and Mitsubishi Corporation). The rest of the companies are Kirin (food and beverage), Emerging Towns & Cities Singapore (real estate), Mallee Resources (mining), and Voltalia (renewables).

From this group, so far, only Adani, Chevron, ENEOS, IFC, Mitsubishi Corp., Petronas, Telenor, TotalEnergies, Trafigura, Voltalia, and Woodside responded (responses linked below).

For the nine companies that decided to suspend operations in Myanmar, two are from the energy sector (EDF and Kansai Electric Power [KEPCO]); two are from the hotel sector (Hilton and Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels). The rest of the companies are British American Tobacco (tobacco), POSCO (mining), PTTOR (oil and gas), Scatec (renewables) and Suzuki (automobiles). Only British American Tobacco, Hilton, POSCO, and Scatec (linked below).

Out of the 26 companies, four are Japanese (Kirin, ENEOS, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Suzuki). Notably, following Japan's adoption of the Guidelines on Respecting Human Rights in Responsible Supply Chains in September 2023, Japanese companies are recommended to conduct enhanced human rights due diligence.

What did companies have to say?


Kirin was one of the first companies to publicly announce withdrawal from Myanmar in 2021. In its response, Kirin confirmed that it has completed its withdrawal from Myanmar. The key considerations informing Kirin’s decision to withdraw were: “…how to enable an early withdrawal from the Myanmar business, and how to minimize the impact on local employees, business partners, and other stakeholders in order to make a responsible withdrawal.” Kirin stated that it “…sincerely explained its approach toward a responsible withdrawal to local employees…” and also “…communicated appropriately and as needed with its business partners.” In considering withdrawal, “…Kirin Holdings took into account multiple scenarios based on the premise of terminating the joint venture as soon as possible while minimizing the negative impact on stakeholders…”

Telenor clarified it “…has no remaining business operations or investments in Myanmar.” Telenor stated that it “…has conducted enhanced due diligence ever since it entered Myanmar…” and “…Throughout its presence in Myanmar, Telenor sought the expertise of both local and international organisations; continuously monitored and assessed developments in the country, established and participated in both formal and informal stakeholder engagement efforts, and took steps to address potential and actual impacts that were identified.” Telenor claims that it “…used all internal expertise as well as external capacity to assess the situation and consider potential alternatives. The conclusion based on these assessments was that selling the business was the least detrimental solution for customers, employees and the broader society.” Telenor is engaging in the OECD Norwegian National Contact Point specific instance procedure following the complaint raised related to the sale of Telenor Myanmar. For further information on this process, Telenor provided this link.

Trafigura has previously responded to the Resource Centre in relation to this Report on the aviation fuel supply chain in Myanmar. According to the Report, Trafigura is a majority owner of Puma Energy.

In this survey, Trafigura explained that it “…has no operations or investments in Myanmar…” and that “…Puma Energy has fully completed its withdrawal from Myanmar.” Prior to their withdrawal, “…Puma Energy’s key considerations were the need to protect the safety and security of employees and to mitigate potential human rights risks in Myanmar.” Trafigura further added, “Puma Energy commissioned an independent Human Rights Assessment which included affected employees and stakeholders.”

In its response, Voltalia clarified that since March 2021, it “…has fully completed its withdrawal from Myanmar.” The key consideration for Voltalia’s decision to withdraw was “…the political and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar…” as explained by its CEO in his communication. In the process of the company’s withdrawal, Voltalia stated that it informed its employees “…before any internal or external communication regarding Voltalia in Myanmar.” As for immediate and longer-term steps it has taken to mitigate any negative impacts of its exit, Voltalia explained that it worked with a local buyer to take back its business locally and that most of its staff was kept by the buyer as employees.


Hilton explained that the hospitality company has “…had a presence in Myanmar since 2014, managing three properties. The Hilton Mandalay and the Hilton Ngapali Resort & Spa have been closed since spring of 2020 and the Hilton Nay Pyi Taw is open under reduced operations.” Hilton stated that it “…conducts thorough due diligence on the parties with which Hilton has a commercial relationship and operates in strict accordance with applicable trade sanctions. “The company asserts that it “…has no business relationships with Myanmar military entities or persons and is not engaged in any activities that result in funds from Hilton being transferred to sanctioned parties.” Hilton further described that it “…undertook a review of the ownership structures for all Hilton-branded properties in the country. That review included updating due diligence, which confirmed that no Myanmar individuals subject to U.S. sanctions appear in the hotel owner structures for any of the properties that Hilton manages in the country.”

What next?

Under the UNGPs, companies also have a responsibility to share information about how they address risks and impacts with external stakeholders while undertaking human rights due diligence. This is even more important in high-risk circumstances. While some companies have substantially shared about due diligence measures in their decision to withdraw or suspend and resume operations in Myanmar, companies can and must do much more.

For Japanese companies, conducting enhanced human rights due diligence is relevant in the context of Japan's Guidelines. According to the Guidelines, companies need to make a more careful and responsible judgment than usual in a conflict-affected situation. In addition, mitigation measures such as having dialogues with employees on safety concerns and taking countermeasures based on the results, and helping employees continuously earn an income during the crisis need to take place.

We have followed up with companies that did not provide any response and will continue updating this page with new company responses as we receive them. We encourage all those which have not yet responded to do so.