Kirin announces withdrawal from Myanmar . . .
On Monday, Japan’s Kirin Holdings announced the termination of its joint venture with Myanmar Economic Holdings Plc (MEHL) and its plans to withdraw from Myanmar before June. The military coup in Myanmar on February 1, 2021, violated Kirin’s policy on human rights and its corporate standards. Kirin was especially motivated to act as MEHL is a military-owned company, and the venture recorded a C$738-million loss in 2021. Initially, Kirin planned to acquire MEHL’s 49 per cent stake and remain in the country; however, it now intends to sell its 51 per cent stake to a company that is not MEHL, though the buyer has not yet been announced.
Japanese guidelines to help identify rights abuses in supply chains . . .
Kirin’s withdrawal comes on the heels of the Japanese government’s announcement that it will set guidelines to help companies identify human rights abuses occurring in their supply chains. In a survey conducted last year, the government found that around 30 per cent of companies that did not conduct any human rights oversight said they did not know how to uncover such violations. The new guidelines are meant to provide companies with concrete methods to monitor their supply chains. However, some businesspeople have noted that the required oversight and investigations will be difficult for small and medium-sized enterprises to undertake. The Japanese government has not yet announced how it will support these firms.
Global pressure for human rights legislation . . .
In the past few years, there has been a consistent push for more thorough human rights laws in international trade, as well as a backlash against countries and companies that violate these laws. Last year, Germany passed a law requiring companies to conduct human rights due diligence, and in 2020 the EU rescinded Cambodia’s tariff-free access to its market over allegations of human rights violations. Some G7 countries, including Canada, have yet to require human rights abuse oversight from their corporations. However, government bans on products and companies accused of violating human rights, such as some Malaysian latex glove factories, accompanied by the rise of environmental, social, and governance-focused investing and consumer savviness, have contributed to a corporate and governance environment that encourages more careful supply chain surveillance.
- ABC News: Japan’s Kirin to withdraw from its Myanmar brewery venture
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: Maldives, Cambodia, and investment from China
- Nikkei: Japan to set human rights guidelines for companies