The transition from military dictatorship to democracy has put Myanmar up for grasp in a global clash between foreign investors. China is already liable for third of the investments in Myanmar while Thailand counts 20 percent. At the moment the EU progress to foray into the market negotiating an investment protection agreement with Myanmar.
But the way to enter the Myanmar market divides European actors. The investment protection agreement has been faced with vocal criticism from none less than 223 NGO’s in Myanmar asking the EU’s trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström to scrap the agreement.
Critics says that the investment protection agreement could harm the basic rights and more specifically threaten the property rights of lower class Burmese. They demand that more development issues are taking into account before settling on a final agreement.
Interest organizations on the trade side of the case refuses demands on mandatory development and human rights claims in a potential agreement.
“Trade policy shouldn’t be held hostage by other matters that deals with anything but trade”, said Pacal Kerneis CEO at the lobby activity European Services Forum.
Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) and Confederation of Danish Enterprise (DE), two significant Danish organizations, won’t subject to the critics either.
Trade policy is trade policy and it should remain that way, DI says according to globalnyt.dk. To the same media EU-consultant at DE says:
“Companies in the Confederation of Danish Enterprise supports the EU-commission in spreading human rights but they neither can or shall not force the Myanmar government into implemnitating human rights. It’s a shared responsibility for governments, commissions and companies to exert pressure on Myanmar and companies cannot take response for this alone”.
The Danish Church Aid criticizes DE’s hard distinction between trade and development policy. Accordingt to Mattias Söderberg advisor of Church Aid it’s an obsolete idea to distinct the two subjects.
“If you won’t development policy into the agreement you’ll never achieve the development that is desired. It also goes against what our Foreign Minister, Kristian Jensen, says and the world goals that we have set,” he said.
Katinka Clausdatter Worsøe from DE says that a distinction between the two policy areas is not what they try to achieve.
The agreement is now in the third round of negotiations and the EU-commission has written their sustainability assessment. More development organizations wants the agreement to be stopped while business organizations wants it to be done – preferably in 2016. Depending on the new Myanmar government and the Commission it’s expected that the agreement will be fully negotiated at the earliest within a year.