The government of Myanmar has made significant strides toward reform that have created opportunities for foreign investment. As Myanmar’s reform efforts continue, the White House recently announced a multilateral initiative to improve labor rights in Myanmar which will set a strong foundation for sustainable growth and development. The U.S., Myanmar, Japan, Denmark and the International Labor Organization (ILO) launched the “Initiative to Promote Fundamental Labor Rights and Practices in Myanmar” on November 14 to help Myanmar modernize its labor code, improve compliance with international labor standards and foster dialogue between government, business and labor.
As explained by a United States Trade Representative Fact Sheet, “this innovative engagement is designed to use a multilateral, multi-stakeholder approach to strengthen labor reform, enforcement, transparency, and domestic stakeholder consultations. The Initiative is based on two pillars
Labor Reform: The Initiative will support development by the government and stakeholders, in cooperation with the ILO and partner governments, of a multi-year labor reform plan. Burma has already undertaken some significant labor law reforms, but the labor reform plan should solidify those reforms, help Burma comply with international standards, and lay out a plan to build the capacity of the government to implement these reforms.
Stakeholder Consultative Mechanism: The Initiative expects to bring stakeholders into the discussion on labor reforms and build the foundations for good industrial relations and civil society consultations in Burma. Specifically, the Initiative envisions the establishment of a stakeholder consultative mechanism that is expected to foster both tripartite engagement (i.e., engagement by the government, employers, and workers), and civil society consultation at the domestic level as well as build relations among international stakeholders from business, labor and civil society that are engaged in Burma.
USCIB has stepped up its advocacy for business in Myanmar, particularly on issues related to investment and responsible business practices. A number of USCIB members currently have operations tied to Myanmar, and many wish to do business in the country. USCIB has played a key role in the multi-stakeholder discussions hosted by the U.S. government and the International Labor Organization and several of its members plan on engaging in the process going forward.
Staff contact: Ariel Meyerstein