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What does corporate responsibility in Burma look like? – Joanne Bauer

There is a lot of news swirling around these days about Burma, today’s big frontier market.

Democratic reforms that were inconceivable just two years ago have all the markings of real change:  the release of hundreds of political prisoners, the re-registration of the once banned National League for Democracy party, which in the April by-elections won 43 of 44 contested seats, the proclaimed end of “press scrutiny” with the elimination of the Press Scrutiny and Registration Department, the legalization of trade unions, the return of the license of a Burmese lawyer who had been disbarred for defending clients in political cases, Rangoon’s announcement that it would abide by the standards of the  Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, and the government decision to abandon the official government exchange rate and instead float its currency, which is expected to reduce corruption.

In response to these changes, Europe, then Australia and Canada, and most recently the United States announced the suspension of economic sanctions and the resumption of economic ties.  Furthermore, the International Labour Organization voted in June to restore full membership rights to Burma. Each of these announcements carries the explicit hope and expectation that foreign investment can support positive political change by spurring economic growth and development, and supporting a fledgling democracy.

It can, but will it?

Via W. Robert de Jongh
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