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April 14, 2023

Myanmar Analytical Update

Authored by
April 14, 2023

On March 24, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed new sanctions on three entities and two individuals with ties to the Myanmar military regime's heinous acts, particularly their air attacks on civilians. According to a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on March 3, the number of junta-led airstrikes increased significantly from 125 in 2021 to 301 in 2022.

The following firms were subjected to sanctions:

  • Asia Sun Group, a Myanmar-based company that plays a critical role in the supply chain of jet fuel for the military regime, and has already been sanctioned by Canada and the European Union;

  • Asia Sun Trading Co Ltd, a Myanmar-based company that procures jet fuel for the Burmese air force and imports it through the Thilawa Port, which had already been designated for sanctions by the UK earlier this year; and

  • Cargo Link Petroleum Logistics Co Ltd, a transportation firm that delivers jet fuel to the military throughout Myanmar, which was also designated by the UK earlier in the year.

Additionally, two individuals were sanctioned:

  • Tun Min Latt, whom the Treasury has identified as a close associate of the military regime's leader, and

  • Win Min Soe, Tun Min Latt's wife, who co-owns the following three business entities: Star Sapphire group of companies, Star Sapphire Trading Company Ltd, and Singapore-based Star Sapphire Group PTE Ltd.

It should b noted that even in the face of previous sanctions from Western countries during the country’s previous military dictatorship administrations between 1988-2010, the military has shown resilience and thus these sanctions seem to not effectively curb the Myanmar military's behavior including their brutal air strikes on Myanmar people. Instead, it could likely have pushed for the military to seek alternative and other creative routes for their necessary support as well as resources including jet fuel if necessary, particularly from China, Russia, India, and Thailand. Additionally, information regarding the Myanmar military is heavily restricted, making it difficult to assess the true impact of these sanctions at this time as well because these countries may still supply the junta with jet fuel through alternative routes that might not be publicly known.

Meanwhile, Counselor Chollet was on a trip to Indonesia and Thailand from March 20-24 to engage with senior government leaders and key stakeholders on bilateral and regional issues, including efforts to address the crisis in Myanmar. In Jakarta, Counselor Chollet met with senior Indonesian government officials to discuss the U.S.-Indonesia Strategic Partnership and their shared commitment to cooperating on economic, security, and energy initiatives. In Bangkok, Counselor Chollet met with senior Thai government officials to emphasize the United States' deep commitment to the U.S.-Thailand alliance and to discuss strengthening bilateral cooperation on a range of issues, including reaffirming ASEAN centrality, expanding health and climate cooperation, and working together to achieve peace in Myanmar.

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