[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
AP-Dow Jones: Singapore Hunting Pro
- Subject: AP-Dow Jones: Singapore Hunting Pro
- From: ider@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 24 May 1996 01:28:00
Subject: AP-Dow Jones: Singapore Hunting Profits in Military-Run Burma
Singapore Hunting Profits in Military-Run Burma
SINGAPORE (AP-Dow Jones)--Other investors may avoid Burma, put off =
complaints about human rights abuses, the pitfalls of its military-domina=
economy and the threat of boycotts or trade embargoes.
But where they see only frustration, Singapore sees a land of opportun=
Just as the U.S. Congress is considering a trade ban to press Burma's =
generals to allow democracy, Singapore is actively promoting business =
them, offering investment, training and a way out of their diplomatic
Singaporean companies are buying and selling Burmese seafood, rubber =
timber. With official encouragement, they're building hotels, supermarket=
a $100 million port in Burma, also known as Myanmar.
Singapore's total investment there surged to $603 million by the end =
surpassing France to make it Burma's second-largest investor after Britai=
according to Singapore's Trade Development Board.
'While the other countries are ignoring Myanmar, it's a good time for =
go in. You get better deals, and you're more appreciated,' said Tay Thiam=
the board's director of foreign operations.
Critics of Burma's rulers are trying to steer investors away, arguing =
their money only strengthens the generals who became international pariah=
after their violent crackdown on pro-democracy activists in 1988.
But Singapore and other Southeast Asian governments reject pressure =
boycotts, saying they don't want to interfere with their neighbor and =
prefer 'constructive engagement.'
'There is absolutely no evidence so far that increasing investment =
country has improved the situation in terms of forced labor and other =
rights violations,' said Zunetta Liddell, a researcher in London for Huma=
Under threat of boycotts, PepsiCo Inc. announced in April that it was =
its business in Burma, although it will continue to supply cola syrup =
local company. Other investors have pulled out in frustration at difficul=
Singapore isn't alone in defying such challenges and the pressure to =
Burma enjoys close relations with China and Thailand, which said this =
wouldn't 'dictate' to the Burmese about the arrest of pro-democracy activ=
U.S. and French companies are helping Burma sell natural gas. Israeli,
Japanese, Australian and U.S. companies are installing telephone networks=
Rangoon, the Burmese capital. Scores of Thai companies are involved in
businesses ranging from logging to mining to fishing.
But while most of those investments occur on a private level, Singapor=
made Burma a focus of its official trade strategy, giving it prominent =
alongside the development of industrial parks in China and Vietnam.
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong visited Burma in 1994. Since then, his
government has sent 17 trade missions, opened an office in Rangoon to =
investors and set up a Burma business group that publishes a monthly
According to Tay, trade with Burma grew 40% last year to $1.2 billion =
could reach $1.5 billion this year.
'By investing ... Singapore hopes to encourage other foreign investors=
similarly invest here,' Industry Minister Yeo Cheow Tong told Singapore's
Straits Times newspaper during a visit to Rangoon in January.
Some of Singapore's investments are in direct conflict with efforts =
Companies are building hotels and promoting boat tours of the Irriwadd=
while Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace
laureate, is calling for a tourist boycott.
'Singapore's position is not to judge them and take a judgmental moral=
ground,' Tay said.
'I think without constructive engagement, the economic situation in =
is not likely to move fast, and I don't think that will help any other =
Congress is considering a bill that would ban U.S. trade with Burma =
political prisoners are released and power is transferred to elected lead=
The E.U. is investigating reports of forced labor and may withdraw =
tariffs on Burmese goods - which would hurt Singaporean exports from Burm=
(END) AP-DOW JONES NEWS 24-05-96