US Department of Labor, Departments of Treasury, State, Commerce, Homeland Security, US Trade Representative issue Burma business advisory
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor – in collaboration with the Departments of the Treasury, State, Commerce, Homeland Security and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative – today issued a Burma Business Advisory highlighting the risks of doing business due to corruption, illicit finance and human rights abuses.
Since a February 2021 coup, the Burmese military has reportedly killed more than 1,400 people, unjustly arrested civilian leaders, and committed widespread grave human rights abuses against the Burmese people. Notably, the military regime has targeted the country’s labor union movement, outlawing 16 labor unions, attacking striking workers, and arresting many union leaders and members.
The military regime has also facilitated corruption, which exposes businesses and individuals involved in operations or supply chains tied to the regime to significant reputational, financial and legal risks.
“The Burmese military have relentlessly attacked and arrested union leaders and members. These actions are unacceptable,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “The Burma Business Advisory serves to remind all businesses and individuals to consider the serious risks of doing business there, and ensure they do not directly or indirectly support the country’s military junta. By making labor exploitation unprofitable to the regime, governments around the world and the business community can stand in opposition to the military’s repression, while keeping goods produced by child and forced labor out of our supply chains.”
The “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor” and “List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor” published by the department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs concludes that evidence exists that 14 goods are produced in Burma using child labor, forced labor and/or forced child labor. Evidence also exists that state-owned enterprises in Burma are involved significantly in industries tied to human trafficking, child and forced labor, and the targeting of labor unions.
In 2020, ILAB’s “Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor” report found no advancement by Burma to combat child labor and, in fact, the reports finds the country is complicit in the use of forced child labor in more than isolated incidents. Recent reports say the Burmese military continues to force civilians and children to work in conflict areas, including Rahkine State, home to the country’s Rohingya minority.