10/31/2018, 17.00
MYANMAR – EUROPEAN UNION
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Card Bo against the 'economic injustice' of EU sanctions

“Experience shows that this type of measure only harms the poorest sections of the population,” the prelate said. Sanctions could devastate some of key sectors of Myanmar’s economy, already facing great uncertainty. Experts estimate that at least 400,000 jobs could be lost in the garment sector.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Trade sanctions by the European Union (EU) "would certainly be an economic injustice for the people of Myanmar,” said Card Charles Maung Bo (pictured), archbishop of Yangon and the country’s first cardinal, speaking to AsiaNews.

A EU delegation arrived in the country to see whether there are grounds to impose punitive measures against the country for the violation of the human rights of the Rohingya. Yesterday it met industrialists and local workers in Yangon.

On 5 October, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said that the EU might take such a step after it noted the government’s failure to solve the humanitarian crisis in the western state of Rakhine.

"I am completely against any form of sanction or embargo against Myanmar,” said Card Bo. “Experience shows that this type of measures only harms the poorest sections of the population. They will suffer the consequences, certainly not the rich and powerful.”

"Opinions and criticism from the West do not take into account the fact that the government and the military, especially Aung San Suu Kyi, are working hard to build a peaceful future for the country.

“I can assure you that, after sixty years of military junta, she is trying to unite the nation by involving the army in the process. It is a long journey, but the priorities are peace and the unity of Myanmar. These are more important than any external interference."

“Sanctions could devastate some of key sectors of the Myanmar economy, which is already experiencing great uncertainty.

The World Bank has recently revised downward the forecast of economic growth for 2018, from 6.8 per cent to 6.2 per cent. Local businesses and trade union leaders are asking the EU to support the growth of the developing country.

If Myanmar is excluded from the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), garment factories could close and almost 400,000 workers be thrown out of work, business and labour leaders warned.

To take advantage of Myanmar’s access to EU markets, China has invested heavily in the country.

For William Zaw Naing Oo, of Mandalay RVA (Radio Veritas Asia), “sanctions could push the country closer to China and away from the West. As a result, the civilian government would face serious difficulties and ordinary citizens will blame Aung San Suu Kyi".

"Economic sanctions will have negative repercussions for both sides,” said businessman Stephen Seng Ja. Myanmar suffered from EU penalties between 2004 until 2012.”

"Trade, cultural and academic exchanges resumed only in 2014. It is important to examine the root causes of the Rohingya crisis and apply a different solution, rather than new sanctions."

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