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(May 24, 2013, Washington, D.C.)—EIRIS Conflict Risk Network today welcomed the U.S. Government’s final Burma Responsible Investment Reporting Requirements, which mandate U.S. corporations newly investing in Burma to report on their operations, policies, procedures and impacts. The reporting requirements, in development for nearly a year, take effect in the wake of this week’s historic and controversial visit to Washington by Burma’s President Thein Sein. The first reports are due on July 1, 2013.

According to EIRIS Conflict Risk Network Director Kathy Mulvey, “We support the reporting requirements as a vital mechanism for institutional investors to fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights, to avoid complicity in human rights abuses, to protect the long-term value of their investment portfolios and to engage corporations over their policies and operations in Burma. However, we remain concerned about the high risks of investment in Burma—and about key gaps in the reporting framework. The requirements allow U.S. corporations too much discretion to designate disclosures as private and confidential or to withhold key information about the steps taken to prevent or mitigate risks.”

Over the past year, the U.S. Government has paved the way for increased U.S. investment in Burma despite ongoing, severe violence in resource-rich areas where investment is most likely. The reporting requirements are attached to a General License authorizing new investment in Burma that was issued in July 2012.

Under the umbrella of EIRIS Conflict Risk Network, investors have been urging the U.S. Government to exercise caution in its policy toward Burma, given the fragile and reversible state of reforms in the country. Building on Conflict Risk Network’s April 2012 report, Not Open for Business: Despite Elections, Investor Risk Remains High in Burma, investors raised concerns about the scope and timing of the relaxation of U.S. sanctions in a May 2012 letter to President Obama.

EIRIS Conflict Risk Network and its investor members actively participated in the public consultation process around the development of the reporting requirements, with joint submissions in October 2012 and March 2013. Forty-three institutional investors, asset owners and asset managers with a combined total of more than $515 billion in assets under management signed on to the second joint comment.

In response to public comments, the reporting requirements were strengthened, clarified and improved. However, the final requirements do not fully incorporate three important recommendations made by EIRIS Conflict Risk Network in both submissions:

Public reporting on prevention and mitigation of financial, operational, legal, regulatory and reputational risks;
Stronger disclosures in relation to business partners and supply chains; and,
Eliminating the $500,000 threshold for reporting.

EIRIS Conflict Risk Network’s Mulvey says, “Investors will use these reporting requirements and the reports submitted under them as a baseline for evaluating corporate human rights commitments and performance in Burma, while also gathering data from other sources. We call on all corporations investing or considering investment in Burma to adhere to internationally recognized standards, and to provide comprehensive and current information about the impact of their investments.”

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