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Burma Courts Foreign Investors

 .c The Associated Press 

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Burma will push ahead with financial and legal
reforms in a bid to encourage foreign investment, a senior Burmese official
said Thursday. 

The reforms will include adopting new laws, abolishing or replacing redundant
laws, and reforming financial, banking and taxation systems, said Kyaw Zaw,
deputy director of the National Planning and Economic Development ministry. 

He did not say when the reforms would begin. 

Motorola, Philips Electronics and other businesses have tried to isolate
Burma -- where a military junta has crushed dissent -- by halting their
business dealings with the southeast Asian nation. In addition, some state
and local goverments in the United States have started to penalize companies
that continue doing business in Berma. 

Addressing a two-day conference on business in Burma, Kyaw Zaw said 21
domestic private banks have been given licenses to operate since the
government adopted a market-oriented economy in 1998. 

He said five of the banks have been allowed to deal in foreign exchange
transactions. In addition, 44 foreign banks have been issued licenses to open
representative offices, he said. 

Between 1988 and October this year, a total of 218 projects have been
approved, bringing in foreign investment worth $5.04 billion from 21

Companies that have left Burma include Carlsberg, Heineken, London Fog, Eddie
Bauer, Levi Strauss, Petro-Canada, Amoco, Liz Claiborne and Columbia
Sportswear. Those remaining include the oil companies Unocal Corp. and Total
SA of France.