No plans to tighten Myanmar sanctions: Australia

  • : Crude oil, Natural gas
  • 22/02/07

The Australian government has no plans to follow the US and tighten sanctions against Myanmar (Burma) despite the withdrawal of Australian independent Woodside Petroleum last month from Myanmar over the worsening political situation in the country.

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the military coup, Washington imposed sanctions on members of the country's military elite, as well as freezing their assets and imposing travel bans.

Australia is following the response of the Association of southeast nations (Asean), which Myanmar is a member, and this grouping of southeast Asian nations have pursued a strategy of dialogue.

"Australia strongly supports Asean's leadership and efforts of the special envoy of the Asean chair on Myanmar. We urge the military to honour its commitment to implement Asean's five-point consensus," Australian foreign minister Marise Payne said in a statement.

Australia's autonomous sanctions regime already includes a longstanding arms embargo against Myanmar, as well as targeted sanctions against five individuals with direct responsibility for atrocities in Rakhine state, where the Myanmar military embarked on a crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya minority. Australia continues to keep its sanctions regime under active consideration, and further sanctions have not been ruled out, Payne said.

Australia strongly supports Asean's leadership and efforts of the special envoy of the Asean chair on Myanmar, Erywan Yusof, the minister said. Australia urges the Myanmar military to honour its commitment to implement Asean's five-point consensus, which includes the cessation of violence in Myanmar and that constructive dialogue between all parties in Myanmar start to seek a peaceful solution.

"We have maintained our view on sanctions is that imposing sanctions at this time would not currently further our interests in terms of our advocacy on the Asean led solution for the critical situation in Myanmar," Payne said. "I do respect, obviously, the decisions of other partners who have determined that imposing further sanctions is the appropriate measure for them. From our perspective, it is not currently a step we are intending to take, but we keep this under review," the minister said.

Woodside in January said it will formally exit the upstream offshore blocks AD-1 and AD-8, the A-6 joint venture and the A-6 production-sharing contract held with state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise. Woodside holds a 40pc participating interest in A-6 as joint operator and participating interests in exploration permits AD-1 and AD-8.

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