News / Asia

Opening for Investment, Burma Faces Human Rights Challenges

Opening for Investment, Burma Faces Human Rights Challenges

x
Opening for Investment, Burma Faces Human Rights Challengesi
|| 0:00:00
X
Scott Stearns
July 30, 2012 11:41 PM
More foreign firms are moving into Burma with the easing of U.S. and European sanctions, following recent political reforms. But as VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports, the Obama administration says it expects U.S. investors to lead by example in improving labor conditions, amid concerns that a more open Burma could worsen human trafficking.

Opening for Investment, Burma Faces Human Rights Challenges

STATE DEPARTMENT — More foreign firms are moving into Burma with the easing of U.S. and European sanctions, following recent political reforms.  But the Obama administration says it expects U.S. investors to lead by example in improving labor conditions, amid concerns that a more open Burma could worsen human trafficking.
 
U.S. and European sanctions hurt Burma's banking sector, making it harder for foreign firms to invest.
 
But with those sanctions eased, Google, Coca-Cola and General Motors are leading the charge into Burma.  Meeting with corporate leaders before the largest-ever U.S. trade mission to the country, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she expects them to be agents of positive change by doing business responsibly.
 
Clinton has told Burmese President Thein Sein that Washington will respond to reforms on an action-for-action basis, as his government legalizes trade unions, eases media censorship, and frees political prisoners.
 
But with a 30 percent poverty rate, UNICEF's Burma representative Ramesh Shrestha says one of the biggest risks in Burma is child exploitation. "If government opens up as it said, democratically, then obviously it opens up for everything.  That would mean the existing bad control of the situation might be loosened up.  That would mean people would do what they want to do.  This could be legal or illegal, all these things could happen," he said. 
 
Jesse Eaves, the senior policy advisor for child protection at the aid group World Vision, says the important thing is that positive steps are being made. "We have seen countries like Burma starting to really take a look at what is happening in its own borders, what is happening to their citizens and trying to take the proper response to it," he said. 
 
Eaves says World Vision is raising awareness about human trafficking and child exploitation in Burma by working with survivors to speak out.  "It is amazing the change that you can see just by addressing the issue, by bringing it out in the open and shining a light on it," he said. "I think the biggest problem we see is that most people do not know what it is that they are looking at.  They may just think, 'This is normal.  This is what we have always done.'"
 
Lex Rieffel, an economic expert at the Brookings Institution, says the speed of Burma's economic reform could challenge welfare and development programs. "We have seen a pattern where countries that invest heavily in natural resources tend to under invest in human resources.  Experience tells us that it is the investment in human resources that pays off in the long term," he said. 
 
But Britain's investment chief Nick Baird says foreign firms can make a big impact in Burma. "It is not just economic, but working together in an open and transparent and responsible business way, will actually help the stability of this country," he said. 
 
The message is echoed by the new U.S. ambassador to Burma, Derek Mitchell, who says outside investment can move the country toward greater transparency and accountability. 

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: inam from: uae
August 05, 2012 6:46 AM
Why is Killing in Burma NOOOO MEDIA THERE
WHy

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid