EU must ban European companies from supporting Burmese regime

5 October 2007

Brussels, October 5th 2007 - Big European companies such as Alcatel, Siemens, Total, Maersk and Rolls-Royce, and a number of timber companies, are still doing business with Burma - despite the Burmese junta's human rights violations and environmental destruction, Friends of the Earth Europe revealed today.[1] The group demands that European governments and the European Commission forbid European companies from trading with Burma, as voluntary CSR policies and warnings from the United Nations are doing nothing to curb their trade with the regime.

Paul de Clerck from Friends of the Earth Europe said:
"By trading with Burma, European companies are pumping money into the criminal regime and supporting its human rights violations and environmental abuses."

The opposition in Burma, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, has been asking for a boycott on Western trade with Burma for a number of years. The United Nations has called on countries to review economic ties with Burma because of forced labour.

The United States responded in 2003 by installing an import ban for all Burmese products, including teak timber. The European Commission installed economic sanctions in October 2004, but not on oil, gas and timber because of the extent of European economic interests in these sectors. European companies have up until now been expected to stop trade with Burma voluntarily.

"It is hypocrisy that companies like Alcatel, Total and Siemens outwardly proclaim a commitment to corporate social responsibility, while continuing to do business in Burma. This clearly shows that voluntary corporate social responsibility doesn't work. It is time for the EU and its member states to apply binding rules on European companies who are operating overseas, including a ban on trade with Burma," Mr de Clerck added.

Alcatel, Total and Siemens are members of voluntary Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) platforms such as CSR Europe and the UN Global Compact.

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NOTES:

[1] A report by SOMA shows:

Stock listed companies trading in Burma:
Alcatel - Lucent
Maersk
Total
Rolls Royce
Schenker Logistics
Schlumberger
Siemens
SBM Offshore
SGS SA

Other European companies trading in Burma:
Worldwood, Koninklijke Houthandel Boogaerdt bv, Houthandel Van de Stadt bv, Altius Houtagenturen, Bruynzeel Multipanel, Aguatic Engineering & Construction Ltd, Ben Line Agencies/EGT Holdings, Brittannic Garden Furniture Ltd, Euro Teck, Focus Energy, Geopetrol, Mel Flooring, Morgan Timber, Moss & Co, NHG Timber Ltd, Parker Kislingbury, Robbins Timber, William Garvey Furniture and Willis Group Holdings.

Full report available at:
http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2007/EU_Companies_in_Burma_Oct2007.pdf