Washington Scene April-May 2022

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Biden Administration Issues Business Advisory On Doing Business In Myanmar

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representatives and the Departments of State, Commerce, Labor, Treasury, and Homeland Security released a new Business Advisory recently entitled “Risks and Considerations for Businesses and Individuals with Exposure to Entities Responsible for Undermining Democratic Processes, Facilitating Corruption, and Committing Human Rights Abuses in Burma (Myanmar).”

The advisory warns, as reported by the International Wood Products Association, “Businesses and individuals with potential exposure to, or involvement in operations or supply chains tied to the military regime that do not conduct appropriate due diligence run the risk of engaging in conduct that may expose them to significant reputational, financial, and legal risks, including violations of U.S. anti-money laundering laws and sanctions.”

The business advisory highlights concerns for businesses operating in or connected to Myanmar, including state owned enterprises (“SOEs”) benefitting the military, such as the Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE). SOEs play a dominant role in the oil and gas, mining, postal, energy, and transportation and logistics sectors and are responsible for generating about half of the military regime revenue and spending, and half of the regime budget. In addition to supporting the military regime, the advisory warns many SOEs are subject to allegations of corruption, child and forced labor, surveillance, and other human and labor rights abuses. Military regime leadership as well as several SOEs are subject to OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) sanctions under Executive Order (“E.O.”) 14014 – Blocking Property With Respect to the Situation in Burma that was issued on February 10, 2021 in response to the military coup. Businesses and individuals involved in dealings with SOEs in Myanmar should conduct appropriate due diligence to ensure they are not furthering corruption within Burma, supporting child or forced labor, or contributing to arbitrary or unlawful surveillance practices, or any other serious human rights abuses.

USDA Announces Plan To Fight Wildfires

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore recently launched a comprehensive response to the nation’s growing wildfire crisis. The strategy outlines the need to significantly increase fuels and forest health treatments to address the escalating crisis of wildfire danger that threatens millions of acres and numerous communities across the United States.

The strategy calls for the Forest Service to treat up to an additional 20 million acres on national forests and grasslands and support treatment of up to an additional 30 million acres of other federal, state, Tribal, private and family lands. Fuels and forest health treatments, including the use of prescribed fire and thinning to reduce hazardous fuels, will be complemented by investments in fire-adapted communities and work to address post-fire risks, recovery and reforestation. These treatments will be strategically focused and at the scale of the problem, based on best available science. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides nearly $3 billion to reduce hazardous fuels and restore America’s forests and grasslands, along with investments in fire-adapted communities and post fire reforestation, according to a statement released by the USDA.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

The premier online information source for the forest products industry since 1927.

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