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Wall Street Journal Letter 5/6/96

Pleae find below a letter that I submitted to the Wall Street Journal. It
was published on May 6, 1996, along with a letter from William Schulz,
Executive Director of Amnesty International, under the title "Morality Is
Good For Business."

The Wall Street Journal made a minor change to the first sentence of my
paragraph but the rest of letter ran as submitted.

I would be happy to provide clean photocopies of both letters and David
Birnbaum's original (and excellent) editorial page commentary.

This is yet another in a series of editorials, commentaries and letters
favorable to the Free Burma movement published in the Wall Street Journal.
We appear to have friends in high and unexpected places.

Simon Billenness
Franklin Research & Development
(617) 423 6655 x 225

Letters to the Editor
Wall Street Journal

In his April 9 editorial page article: "Forget MFN, the Consumers Are
Coming!" David Birnbaum correctly points out that consumers punish companies
that remain indifferent to abuses of human rights. Unfortunately he missed
the fact that, after a three-month consumer boycott, Columbia Sportswear has
joined Eddie Bauer, Levi Strauss, Liz Claiborne and Macy's in stopping the
purchase of apparel made in Burma. PepsiCo has just announced the sale of
its 40% equity interest in its Burmese bottler and acknowledged the growing
pressure from its customers. 

But consumers are not just individuals; they include cities, states and
institutions such as universities. Harvard University recently pulled back
from awarding Pepsi a five-year $1 million contract after students objected
to PepsiCo's presence in Burma. Six cities -- Ann Arbor (MI), Berkeley (CA),
Madison (WI), Oakland (CA), Santa Monica (CA) and San Francisco -- have
already enacted laws barring municipal purchases of goods or services from
any company doing business in Burma. ARCO, Texaco, Total and Unocal now face
losing lucrative contracts for heating and fuel oil as Alameda County,
Massachusetts and New York City debate similar purchasing restrictions.

During the campaign against apartheid, municipal and state purchasing
restrictions played a principal role in forcing corporations out of South
Africa. As cities and states join individual consumers in shunning companies
that do business in Burma, they prove Birnbaum's thesis that effective
action in support of human rights can take place in the free market and
outside of the Beltway.

Simon Billenness
Senior Analyst
Franklin Research & Development