Thursday, October 25, 2007

ASEAN: Globalization vs. the impact of Burma’s political impasse

Thu 23 Jun 2005

Along with the new millennium, the global economy and the borderless world, has become a reality in the Southeast Asia region. This new climate of globalization impacts economic developments in the region, which has a relatively large population base, inexpensive labour, and an abundance of natural resources. Accordingly, the region’s international business is changing rapidly, and one primary reason is increased foreign investments and free trade agreements. Indeed, the volume of international trade in this region has increased dramatically over the last two decades, and the economic activity in the region continues to burgeon.

Although the issues facing the region have been addressed in the past, one of the important issues should be resolved. It is the ASEAN’s Burma policy. It was derived from the policy of “constructive engagement” initiated in 1991 by the Former Thai Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun as Thailand’s foreign policy towards Burma. This policy was later regionalized as ASEAN’s Burma policy and it has a direct impact on regional development and trade matters.
Even though ASEAN leaders tried to convince the region that their policy was working, they acknowledge that it brought in extreme contradictions among its members. Some political leaders in the region have criticized Burma’s regime and said that Burma had used ASEAN as a shield against criticism by members of the international community including the United Nations, EU nations and the United States. The fact of the matter is that Burmese generals are not using ASEAN as a shield it is ASEAN which has allowed the Burmese regime to use it as a shield.

(Myat Soe is Research Director of Justice for Human Rights in Burma)

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