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Here is your Mekong Memo Myanmar for the week of October 24, 2023:
Escalating Trade Deficit Alarms Military Regime
Myanmar's military regime is grappling with a surging trade deficit, which approached a staggering $1 billion in just the first half of fiscal 2023-2024, marking a 1,500% increase from the previous year's $66 million during the same timeframe. In a recent meeting, junta Commerce Minister Tun Ohn emphasized the urgency to enhance exports and reduce imports. Despite the regime's intentions, business leaders express concerns over potential restrictions, while economists highlight the long-term nature of boosting exports. The current economic strain exacerbates the hardships faced by the public due to rising commodity prices.
Read more: The Irrawaddy
ASEAN's Tangled Ties with Myanmar's Junta
Despite global condemnation of Myanmar's military coup in 2021, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has struggled to present a united front against the junta. While the United Nations General Assembly passed a non-binding arms embargo in 2021, ASEAN members remain among Myanmar's top trading partners. Economic interests, political considerations, and the bloc's principles of non-interference have led to a soft stance on the Myanmar crisis. The junta's continued violence against civilians has prompted weak condemnations from ASEAN, frustrating activists and highlighting the bloc's internal divisions.
Read more: TIME
ILO's Damning Report on Labour Rights
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has released a comprehensive report highlighting the Myanmar military regime's severe infringements on labour rights since the coup. The report details post-coup assaults on workers, with over 484 workers and union leaders killed since early 2021. The ILO's findings emphasize the regime's return to widespread forced labour practices, reminiscent of past decades. The military's non-cooperation with the ILO's Commission of Inquiry and its denial of allegations further underscore the dire situation for workers in Myanmar.
Read more: Myanmar Now
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