News / Asia

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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid