Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

Group says US companies are still buying the valuable timber from Myanmar despite sanctions imposed after a military takeover.

US companies continue to import teak, a valuable hardwood, from Myanmar despite sanctions imposed by Washington after the military takeover of the country last year, according to a watchdog group.

Justice for Myanmar, a human rights group, has found that U.S. companies are importing the wood from Myanmar as recently as December, despite sanctions imposed in April. The group said in a report released on Tuesday that it appeared the companies were violating sanctions by buying intermediaries.

In total, nearly 1,600 tons of timber reached U.S. companies between February and November last year, the group said, citing figures from the global trade database Panjiva.

“The timber arrived in 82 different shipments … which consisted largely of teak board and scraper used for shipbuilding, deck and furniture,” said the group, which encouraged the U.S. and other governments to trade in combat teak to better curb the teak trade. flow of funds to Myanmar’s military leadership.

“It is likely that even more teak will be exported to the US via third countries such as China,” the report said.

The US Treasury sanctions, announced on April 21, 2021, prohibit transactions with Myanmar Timber Enterprise, a state-owned company under the country’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation. The company oversees all timber exports from Myanmar and sells to private companies through auctions.

The European Union imposed similar sanctions in June.

Wood is one of Myanmar’s most resource-rich industries, bringing in millions of dollars a year in taxes and exports.

According to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a global monitoring group, in the 2017-18 financial year, Myanmar received nearly $ 100 million in revenue from taxes and royalties on the timber trade, while revenue for the entire forestry industry totaled $ 322 million.

Myanmar’s army, led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who claims electoral fraud, overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy in February 2021.

Rights observers say nearly 1,500 people were killed and about 11,500 were arrested in subsequent military repression.

On Monday, 76-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi was a Nobel Peace Prize winner. sentence to four years in prison in addition to a previous two-year sentence she was ordered to serve on charges that critics say are politically motivated.

Law group Amnesty International called the new convictions “the latest act in the hoax against the civilian leader”.

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