US raises investment reporting threshold

By SEAN GLEESON | FRONTIER

YANGON — The United States has enacted provisions to significantly raise reporting requirements for American investors in Myanmar, a move first flagged during May’s partial relaxation of sanctions against the country.

Under the new rules enacted at the end of June, American companies investing more US$5 million in Myanmar will be required to file annual reports outlining their activities in the country, 10 times higher than the previous threshold enacted in 2013.

All firms operating in the oil and gas sector will remain subject to the US State Department’s “Reporting Requirements on Responsible Investment in Burma”, regardless of the level of investment.

Rights groups had petitioned against any changes to the reporting regime.

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DVB reported on Thursday that Earth Rights International had lodged a Freedom of Information request to seek publication of submissions made in favour of raised investment threshold by the US Chamber of Commerce and its Myanmar affiliate.

Unlike the numerous submissions lodged against the rule change, the two in favour had not been published, DVB said.

In an April report ahead of the sanctions changes, former US Treasury official Peter Kucik said that the State Department’s mandatory reporting requirements acted as a deterrent to prospective investors.

“There remains scepticism [among investors] about the benefits and fear that the information will be skewed or misinterpreted and attract public criticism,” he wrote.

During its annual review of the Specially Designated Nationals list, which prohibits US investment with over 100 Myanmar individuals and entities, OFAC lifted sanctions against the Myanma Economic Bank and two other state-owned lenders on May 18.

In order to facilitate greater US investment, general exemptions have been extended to apply to port and airport facilities controlled by the blacklisted Asia World conglomerate, as well as two banks controlled by military-owned enterprises.

By Sean Gleeson

By Sean Gleeson

Sean Gleeson was Frontier Myanmar's first digital editor from 2016-2018.
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