Myanmar Shrimp Processing Plants Closed


Linda Salim, for SeafoodSource from Surabaya, Indonesia

Published on
July 22, 2008

Two shrimp processing plants in Myanmar were recently shut down in the wake of an executive decree issued by U.S. President Bush on May 1 to expand U.S. trade sanctions on Myanmar. The executive order specified that no U.S. person or company import any products from Myanmar.

The two factories, Shwe Tharawan and Shwe Yamon, are reportedly either shrimp processing or cold storage facilities, located in the Satro Kya Creek in Sittwe, the state capital of Arakan.

Both plants are owned by powerful military families. Shwe Tharawan is the son of General Shwe Mann, the third most powerful figure in Myanmar, after General Than Shwe and Vice-Senior General Maung Aye, who is the joint chief of staff of the Burmese Armed Forces.

The two plants closed soon after the U.S. executive order, although it wasn't reported until recently. Previously, the plants were serving Singapore businesses that allegedly didn't transfer the funds to the companies' local bank accounts after the executive order, as reported by an unnamed employee. No concrete information is available; allegedly Singapore companies buying from Myanmar may have re-exported the shrimp to the United States.

About 200 people are unemployed as a result of the shutdown. They were, however, compensated three months' salary.

Local media reports that ownership of Shwe Tharakan was transferred to the Department of Fisheries from the son of General Shwe Mann after the shutdown.

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