sanctions

By Christopher Wall and Aaron Hutman of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

A bold experiment has been launched in the realm of sanctions policy among developed countries. Since July 1, US companies and investors have been required to submit reports on their activities in Myanmar as a condition of making new investments there. 

The US has taken further steps to ease restrictions on US corporate investment and business activities in Myanmar, following intense debate within the US Treasury and the State department after Washington softened sanctions against the country last July.

The move frees US citizens and companies to conduct business with four of the country’s biggest banks, of a total 19 banks. All four banks have faced US sanctions and at least two of the institutions are controlled by people who have been on so-called US “blacklists”, naming individuals with close business and financial links to the former military regime. 

More pressure is coming Turkey’s way over gas purchases from Iran.

After the Turkish government’s admission last week that Tehran was using revenue from gas sales to Ankara to buy gold and then shipping the metal back home, the gas-gold trade has attracted (almost certainly unwelcome) attention from the US Senate. 

By Udayan Chattopadhyay of Ergo

The US’s decision to suspend some key sanctions against Myanmar is the latest and perhaps most prominent endorsement received by that country’s new quasi-civilian regime.

Global interest has surged, due to Myanmar’s vast untapped natural resources, underexploited agricultural sector and huge underemployed labor force. While there is justifiable excitement – the IMF expects 6 per cent economic growth this year – those new to Myanmar will find that it is hardly virgin territory. 

The last few days have seen a fresh wave of US sanctions against Iran, in an attempt to put the brakes on its nuclear programme. But cutting off Iran’s oil – its biggest export – isn’t easy.

Chart of the week takes a look at which emerging markets are affected the most. 

The prospect of European Union sanctions against Iran is driving up oil prices and sending buyers looking for cover. But Europe should not assume that Russia, the world’s biggest oil producer, will replace the missing Iranian crude when the embargo kicks in on July 1.

After years of delays and billions of dollars of investment Russia is beginning to redirect its oil trade away from the west towards premium energy markets in China and east Asia.