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UK commits £600,000 to support responsible investment in Burma

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Minister for South East Asia, Hugo Swire spoke to Human Rights and Burma campaigners at the FCO today about the progress being made in Burma.

Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said:

Burma remains a central foreign policy priority for this Government, and for me personally. Over the last 18 months, we have seen significant strides towards reform - with the releases of political prisoners; credible by-elections; initial ceasefire agreements; and steps towards increasing humanitarian access to conflict areas. But we need to see that progress continue - one political prisoner is one too many, and ethnic discrimination must be brought to an end.

Mr Swire spoke with representatives from Burma Campaign UK (BCUK), and Christian Solidarity Worldwide, among others this morning for frank discussions about the many challenges Burma still faces.

They discussed political prisoners who are still in jail; serious armed conflict in Kachin State; the Rohingya people being denied citizenship and basic rights; and humanitarian access for UN agencies. The Minister made clear the UK view that investment, if made responsibly, can radically improve the everyday lives of the Burmese people.

Speaking separately, Minister of State for International Development Alan Duncan said: One in four people in Burma live in poverty, and three out of four people have no access to electricity. Burma has vast potential and I want to see an increase in responsible investment, with the UK playing a leading role.

I am pleased to announce that the UK through the Department for International Development will provide £600,000 to establish a Responsible Investment Resource Centre in Rangoon, which will help strengthen responsible business practices for Burmese companies and those investing in the country.

This is a strong signal of our support for investment that is good for the UK as well as for the people of Burma.

Read the speech the Minister gave at the event.