Friday, July 13, 2012

U.S business leaders to meet in Rangoon on Saturday

Friday, 13 July 2012 12:56 Mizzima News

Leaders of 36 large U.S. companies will meet in Rangoon to look at business opportunities on Saturday, local media reported.

The three-day meeting at the Sedona Hotel will include U.S. companies dealing in finance, energy, health and infrastructure industries, said the 7-Day newspaper.

During their visit, the U.S. business leaders will study Burma’s foreign investment law, economic conditions and trends. Recently, U.S. companies including Coca Cola and General Electric have signaled they are interested in investing in Burma.

U.S. State Department official Robert Hormats. Photo:

The business leaders are accompanied by two key U.S. financial and trade officials who will promote trade on Saturday and Sunday.

Robert Hormats, the under secretary of state for economic growth, and Francisco Sanchez, the under secretary of commerce for international trade, will meet with Burma’s top financial leaders in Naypyitaw and Rangoon.

Hormats and Sanchez will also join members of the delegation of the U.S.-Asean Business Council, which promotes trade between the U.S. and Southeast Asia and has advocated greater business ties with Burma.

On Wednesday, the Obama administration announced the removal of investment sanctions on Burma, allowing U.S. companies to do business and invest in sectors including oil and gas.

According to Burmese statistics, U.S. investment amounted to $243.49 million in 15 projects, accounting for merely 0.6 percent of the total as of March 2012.

The figures also showed that bilateral trade between Burma and the U.S. reached $293.64 million in the fiscal year 2011-12, with Burma’s export to the U.S. amounting to $29.57 million while its imports from the U.S. totaled $264.07 million.

Meanwhile, Britain has opened a trade and investment office in Rangoon and a British business delegation is on a three-day trip to Rangoon and Naypyitaw, the new capital, this week, according to The Telegraph.

Leaders of Anglo American, BP, British Gas, Ernst & Young, Rolls Royce and Shell are among the delegates.

The trip comes just weeks after Britain and the European Union suspended all sanctions apart from arms sales in response to democratic reforms by Burma’s military-dominated government.

“Everyone is competing to get into Burma, which means they are talking down human rights abuses and talking up positive changes in order to justify their policy,” said Mark Farmaner of the Burma Campaign UK.

British-owned WPP, one of the world’s largest advertising firms, bought a stake in a leading advertising company in Rangoon during the past month.

Martin Sorrell, WPP chief executive, said Burma offers a “massive opportunity” in the future similar to Thailand decades ago.

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