Indian Company Drops Plan to Develop Myanmar Military-Owned Port

By The Irrawaddy 28 October 2021

India’s Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited said it would withdraw its investment in the military-owned Ahlone Port by June next year.

On Wednesday, India’s largest port operator said it was abandoning plans to build a container terminal in Myanmar’s commercial capital, Yangon.

“The company’s Risk Management Committee, after a review of the situation, has decided to work on a plan on exiting [the] company’s investment in Myanmar, including exploring any divestment opportunities,” said the company in its operational and financial highlights statement, adding that the move would be concluded by June 2022.

Adani was granted permission by the Myanmar Investment Commission in April 2019 to develop, operate and maintain Ahlone International Port Terminal 2 on 54 acres (21.85 hectares) of land, with a 630-meter (2,067-foot) jetty owned by the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC).

In March 2021, the Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ) and Justice for Myanmar (JFM) published Port of Complicity, a report on Adani Ports’ business in Myanmar that included new evidence of payments to MEC and the company’s direct relationship with junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, increasing pressure on investors.

MEC is one of the two military-controlled conglomerates sanctioned by the US following the Feb. 1 military coup. Adani’s initial response was to deny the stark evidence of its business relationship with MEC.

In May, the company said it would abandon its container terminal project and write down the investment if it is found to be in violation of sanctions imposed by the US.

According to Adani, it paid a US$90-million upfront payment to MEC to lease land.

Foreign investments with links to Myanmar’s military have come under pressure from international agencies and human rights organizations since the coup.

Norwegian pension fund KLP divested from Adani in June, saying the Indian company’s links with the Myanmar military breach the fund’s responsible investment policy.

On Thursday, ACIJ and JFM “cautiously” welcomed Adani’s plans to divest from their Myanmar container port business.

“Adani Ports’ plan to divest shows community and investor pressure works. Business with the terrorist Myanmar military does not pay. Adani Ports should never have gone into business with MEC, knowing they would be complicit in the Myanmar military’s atrocities,” said JFM spokesperson Daw Yandana Maung.

Adani has become the latest international investor to leave Myanmar following the coup. Switzerland’s Kempinski Hotel in Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw ceased its operations on Oct. 13.

More than 10 foreign companies have either abandoned or suspended their planned investments in Myanmar since the military takeover.

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