Letter: Burma: investors should wait

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The Independent Online
Burma: investors should wait

Sir: Your report ("Words of hope reverberate across Burma", 28 May) on the weekend speech by the Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi made one key omission. Foreign investors, she has consistently said, "should jolly well wait" until Burma has a democratic government.

Yet British government policy remains that "Outside of the EU arms embargo, there are no obstacles to UK companies doing business with Burma". If pressed, the Department of Trade hard disk will even come up with some po-faced phrases about trade reinforcing pressure for reform.

The State Law and Order Restoration Council military government is largely kept in place, able to spend half its revenue on arms, by precisely this dollar-signs-in-the-eyes mentality. Burma supplies 60 per cent of the world's heroin, and the SLORC take their cut of that foreign trade too.

Even the free-trading US can see this is not acceptable. Yet last February, while companies like Heineken and Levi's were leaving, the British government was handing out pounds 1,000 a time to encourage companies such as GEC Marconi and John Brown to attend a trade mission in Rangoon.

SALLY STEEN

Christian Solidarity International

Brussels

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