January 28, 2021

The EU weighs economic actions against Burma for violation of rights

The EU weighs economic actions against Burma for violation of rights



The European Union (EU) will weigh economic actions against Burma (Myanmar) after sending a mission to the Asian country to assess the violation of human rights against minorities such as Rohingya and forced labor allegations.

The EU delegation met with ministers, trade unions, businessmen and members of civil society during a visit to the South East Asian country between the past Monday and Wednesday, the European Commission (EC) said in a statement.

The delegates also met with representatives of the UN and the World Labor Organization.

"This comes after the disturbing events highlighted in several United Nations reports, in particular in relation to human rights violations in the Rakáin, Kachin and Shan states and concerns about labor rights," the EC said.

The UN has warned of an ethnic cleansing and elements of "intentional genocide" by the Armed Forces against the Rohingya Muslims in the Rakáin state, as well as other human rights violations against the ethnic minorities in Kachin and Shan.

The delegation addressed issues such as measures for the "voluntary, safe and dignified" return of more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh after military operations last year, as well as cases of forced labor and child recruitment in the Army, among others. matters

The EU was willing to help the Burmese authorities to solve their problems, but also to remove to Burma the commercial program Everything But Arms (EBA, for its acronym in English), which eliminates tariffs for all products less weapons, if not appreciates progress.

"If they do not act, the Myanmar authorities are endangering the country's duty-free access to the EU market, a program that has proven to be vital for the country's economic and social development," the European Commissioner for Human Rights said in the statement. Commerce, Cecilia Malmström.

This process of withdrawal of the EBA could last a year and is reversible in case Naipyidó assumed certain commitments for the protection of minorities and labor rights.

The EU is the sixth largest trading partner of Burma with a trade balance in 2017 of 2,090 million euros (1,832 million dollars).

Imports in that year amounted to 1,549 million euros (1,357 million dollars), of which 72 percent corresponded to the textile sector with clients such as the Spanish company Inditex and the Swedish company H & M.

In 2017, Spain imported textiles and clothing products worth 169.6 million euros (193.5 million dollars), an increase of 96 percent over the previous year.

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