Open Letter on Doing Business in Burma

August 31, 2012 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and the Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today issued the following open letter:

On July 12, 2012, Canada announced its intention to open an embassy in Burma. This followed Canada’s announcement in April of this year that it had suspended most of its sanctions against that country. These actions were both in response to a number of positive changes that have occurred in Burma recently.

Canada is genuinely encouraged by the changes Burmese authorities have undertaken and will continue to support and monitor developments closely. This involves going into business dealings with eyes wide open to Burma’s history. As we were reminded during discussions with Aung San Suu Kyi, it is important that international investors be careful with whom they conduct business.

Canadian companies should be vigilant in ensuring they deal only with reputable people who have acted and will continue to act with integrity.

The recent changes the Government of Canada has made to Canada’s sanctions create new opportunities for Canadians to engage in Burma, contributing to prosperity and economic development in both countries. That said, it remains the responsibility of individual companies to ensure their activities are within legal parameters and beyond reproach with respect to integrity. Canadians and Canadian companies are urged to remain vigilant and ensure that they engage with individuals and companies of the highest ethical standard.

Canadian companies considering doing business in Burma should familiarize themselves with the local context. A list of companies and individuals with whom it is prohibited to engage in specific transactions remains in place, as per the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations.

Canada continues to have serious concerns about governance in Burma, including on issues such as forced labour and the rule of law. Canadian companies should be familiar with the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. Canadian companies should also be aware that the political and human rights situation in Burma, while improving, remains unpredictable, and Canadian policy may change rapidly in response to unexpected events.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-7332

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874
Follow us on Twitter: @DFAIT_MAECI

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000
Follow us on Twitter: @Canada_Trade