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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Firms urged to pull out of Burma
P&O cruise ship - P&O
P&O have been "named and shamed" over Burma
Human rights activists have added 11 large companies to their "dirty list" of firms doing business in Burma.

In total the UK campaigners now name and shame 79 multinationals, demanding that they should pull out of Burma.

One firm on the list, P&O Cruises, has now confirmed it is reconsidering whether any of its cruise liners should continue visits there.

Advertising giant WPP has also said it is close to closing its offices in the country, which it acquired following its recent takeover of Cordiant.

And accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers are also reported to be rethinking their position on the issue.

Burma Campaign UK says its list "exposes companies who are directly or indirectly helping to finance one of the most brutal regimes in the world".

'Oppressive regime'

NEW ON THE DIRTY LIST
WPP
Ernst & Young
P&O Cruises
AA Publishing
Deutsche Post
Superdrug
3 Mobile
Gary Player Design
PanMacMillan
Noble Caledonia
Intrepid Travel
Director John Jackson said: "Foreign investment can benefit developing countries, but in Burma it helps finance a regime that uses rape, torture and murder to oppress its own people."

New additions also include Hutchison Whampoa subsidiaries Superdrug and 3 Mobile, as well as consultants Ernst & Young, AA Publishing and Deutsche Post, which owns the logistics company DHL.

Many firms are attracted to Burma by wages as low as 17p a day, its compliant workforce where unions are banned and limited health a safety laws, Burma Campaign UK says.

Aung San Suu Kyi
Companies are under pressure to quit Burma after the arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
Of the UK's big names, British American Tobacco (BAT) is viewed as the main offender.

The campaign says the Burmese regime earns $400,000 a year in profits from its joint venture with BAT, which has also earned it $16m in taxes.

In July, the UK government asked BAT to pull out of the country as it does not want UK firms to invest in the country.

ON THE CLEAN LIST
Premier Oil
Kuoni
Marks & Spencer
Next
Levi's
Texaco
Triumph International
It increased pressure on UK firms to withdraw following the arrest in May of Aung San Suu Kyi - leader of the country's democratic opposition.

Dilemma

China has spoken out against any moves to isolate the state, with Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan saying he disagreed with foreign interference in Rangoon's internal affairs.

But David Steinberg, professor of Asian studies at the University of Georgia, claims many firms face a dilemma over pulling out as it means poor people with no other jobs to go to will suffer.

However, John Jackson said: "The thing we've had to weigh up is that you have a democratically elected party within Burma calling for disinvestment and calling for companies not to invest.

"Seventy-five per cent of Burma's people live off the land, and even the vast majority of urban dwellers will not be touched by disinvestment."

The campaigners also said they had added "around 10" companies to their "clean list" of firms that have pulled out of Burma.




SEE ALSO:
Protests mark Burma anniversary
08 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Suu Kyi 'case' solved by October
30 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific
PwC pays again in new audit scandal
23 May 03  |  Business
Cordiant backs WPP takeover
23 Jul 03  |  Business
P&O passenger numbers drop
14 Aug 03  |  Business
China slams Burma sanctions
20 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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