U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) today released the following joint statement regarding Burma:
"We are pleased that U.S. companies will now be able to invest in Burma, a step we have advocated. We are concerned, however, that the Obama Administration has chosen to permit U.S. firms to do business with the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) at this time.
"This concern is not due to the intentions or practices of American companies, which we believe can play an important role in improving life for the people of Burma and strengthening democratic and economic reforms in the country. Rather it is due to the specific nature of MOGE, the state-owned enterprise with which all U.S. and foreign companies that do business in Burma's oil and gas sector must work. As Aung San Suu Kyi recently stated, MOGE's operations remain non-transparent, and the billions of dollars in foreign investment that it receives remain unaccountable to the people and parliament of Burma, even though this money is state and national revenue. Under these conditions, we are concerned that doing business with MOGE runs the risk of setting back Burma's democratic reforms, rather than reinforcing them, as is our common goal.
"The parliament in Burma is currently considering a new investment law, which could be an ideal vehicle for addressing the concerns with MOGE and other state-owned enterprises in Burma that Aung San Suu Kyi and others have raised. We wish the Administration had given Aung San Suu Kyi and her fellow legislators more time to produce a new investment law that could enable American and other foreign companies to invest in Burma's oil and gas sector in the near term, but do so with a more transparent, accountable, and reformed business partner than MOGE is at present. This must remain an important goal of U.S. policy, and we will continue to urge leaders in Burma to ensure that state-owned enterprises abide by internationally-accepted transparency standards. We hope the Obama Administration will do the same, along with our closest partners in Europe and Asia."