On February 1, 2021, Burma’s military overthrew the country’s democratically-elected civilian government in a coup d’etat. Since then, the military has killed more than 1,400 innocent people, unjustly arrested political leaders and journalists, violently disbanded labor unions, and committed egregious human rights abuses against the people of Burma. These acts are an attack on the people of Burma and a rejection of their will, as expressed in Burma’s November 2020 general elections.
The coup and subsequent military-led abuses have severely damaged Burma’s economic and business environment, reversing the gains achieved over the course of Burma’s ten-year transition towards democracy, and resulting in an unpredictable business environment in which the military extracts revenue to support its violent repression of democracy.
Today, the U.S. Departments State, Commerce, Homeland Security, Labor, the Treasury, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are issuing this advisory to inform individuals, businesses, financial institutions, and other persons — including investors, consultants, and research service providers — of the heightened risks associated with doing business in Burma, and particularly business activity that could benefit the Burmese military regime.
The United States does not seek to curtail legitimate business and responsible investment in Burma. However, businesses and individuals should be wary of the associated illicit finance and money laundering risks, as well as reputational and legal risks, of conducting business and utilizing supply chains under military control in Burma. The military regime has undermined the rule of law, facilitated widespread corruption, and committed serious human rights abuses, which exacerbate risks to foreign businesses operating in Burma or providing financial services to Burmese businesses.
These industries have been identified as primary industries providing economic resources for Burma’s military regime:
Gems and precious metals
Real-estate and construction projects
Arms, military equipment, and related activity
Businesses and individuals with potential exposure to, or involvement in, operations or supply chains tied to the military regime that do not conduct appropriate due diligence run the risk of engaging in conduct that may expose them to significant reputational, financial, and legal risks, including violations of U.S. anti-money laundering laws and sanctions, as well as abetting human rights abuses.
This business advisory is another example of the United States’ strong commitment to the people of Burma. The United States will continue to work with our partners and allies to promote justice for victims and accountability for those responsible for human rights abuses and atrocities, and to press the regime to cease the violence, release all those unjustly detained, cease human rights abuses, and restore multiparty democracy and Burma’s democratic transition.