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US Investment up 139% (FT)

Headline: US companies rush to beat sanctions against Burma, $300m deals
pushed through fast, US investment leaps 139%, US Govt (Rangoon) warns
foreign investors in Burma of "shockwaves", unwelcomed in the US  (FT

25 Apr 1997 
Financial Times-Ted Bardacke, Reuter (Rangoon) 

US companies signed more investment deals with Burma in February thn in
the whole of the
past eight years as they dashed to conclude talks before President Bill
Clinton banned new US investment in the south-east Asian nation.

More than $300m worth of deals were concluded with Burma's military
regime, according to offical Burmese data. 
The ban -- designed to punish the regime for its poor human rights
record and refusal to negotate with the democracy leader, Ms Aung San
Suu Kyi, and to spur further international isolation of the junta -- was
announced by Mr Clinton on Tuesday.

Most observers have been predicting since January that sanctions were
imminent after Ms Suu Kyi was attacked in Rangoon, students were rounded
up following demonstrations and Mrs Madeleine Albright, a severe critic
of the Burmese government, was named US secretary of state. 

Approved investment by US companies ata the end of January was $243m,
according to statistics from the Myanmar Investment Commission published
in official Burmese media. By the end of February, the last month for
which figures are available, that amount had leaped up 139% to $582m.

The $339m in dals signed in February was a huge increase over the $21.4m
approved in 1995 and 1996 combined, and consolidated the US's position
as the fourth largest foreign investor in Burma, aafter the UK
(including the British Virgin Islands), Singapore and Thailand.

Most of the new investment was in the oil and gas sector, with offshore
exploration rights held by Unocal and Texaco being converted into
production-sharing contracts.

This distinction is important as the executive order implementing the
new investment ban is expected to allow existing investment contracts to
be fulfilled but not allow them to be expanded, modified or upgraded.
Arco has also been heavily involved in natural gas exploration but it is
unclear whether a production-sharing agreement has been reached.

Foreign investment in the oil and gas sector during February increased
by $629m to $291m. The UK's Premier Oil is a junior partner in the
Texaco-led consortium.

* The top US diplomat in Rangoon yesterday warned that Washington's
decision to impose sanctions could have implications for other foreign
investors, Reuter adds from Rangoon.

Mr. Kent Wiedemann, US chargé d'affaires to Burma, said that while the
initial economic impact of the move might be small, there would be

"It's a powerrful message to US and other (foreign) companies that this
is not a good place to do business if you do so in the US", he said.