Kontakt oss

Telefon: 22 03 31 50
E-post: post@framtiden.no
Mariboes gate 8

Støtt arbeidet vårt

Liker du arbeidet Framtiden i våre hender gjør? Med din støtte kan vi gjøre enda mer.
Bli medlem nå!

Ja til miljørabatt!

Kutt moms på reparasjon og utleie av klær, utstyr og elektronikk!
Les mer

Vi jobber for en rettferdig verden i økologisk balanse

×

Advarsel

JUser: :_load: Kan ikke laste bruker med id: 2212

Kongsberg wants business with Burma

At the end of February, Kongsberg Simrad will participate in the Oil & Gas Expo in Burma's capital Rangoon. The Expo is organized by the country's Ministry of Energy. Kongsberg tells NorWatch that the company will trade with Burma's controversial regime if contracts are landed.

- We need an export permit for many of our products, and will first apply for this. If we get a permit, there's no reason not to do business with the country, says the president of Kongsberg Maritime, Jan Erik Korssjøen.

Artikkelen er mer enn to år gammel. Ting kan ha endret seg.

At the end of February, Kongsberg Simrad will participate in the Oil & Gas Expo in Burma's capital Rangoon. The Expo is organized by the country's Ministry of Energy. Kongsberg tells NorWatch that the company will trade with Burma's controversial regime if contracts are landed.

- We need an export permit for many of our products, and will first apply for this. If we get a permit, there's no reason not to do business with the country, says the president of Kongsberg Maritime, Jan Erik Korssjøen.


By Øsgeir Johansen
Norwatch

The Myanmar Oil & Gas Expo '98 will be arranged 24-26 February in Rangoon. The Expo is held to attract international investors to the country in order to develop its oil and gas sector. The official organizers are the companies CP Exhibition and Silver Kris Pte Ltd. from Hong Kong and Burma, respectively, but the Expo has received support from the Burmese government. At the opening of the previous Expo, Burma's Minister of Energy emphasized the importance of foreign companies' involvement in the country's energy sector in order to strengthen and develop it.

Kongsberg Simrad
The Kongsberg Group is participating in this year's Expo through its wholly-owned subsidiary Kongsberg Simrad Pte. Ltd. The enterprise is registered in and operates from Singapore and is active throughout large parts of Southeast Asia. Jan Erik Korssjøen, president of Kongsberg Maritime tells NorWatch:

- The Kongsberg Group is an international enterprise, and our company in Singapore is responsible for its own marketing in the East. That's why they'll be present at the Myanmar Oil & Gas Expo. We've gained a foothold in this market, and we naturally want to be present at this Expo together with our competitors in the area.

- Will you do business with Burma if you receive contract offers?

- We need an export permit for many of our products, and will first apply for this. If we get a permit, there's no reason not to do business with the country, says Korssjøen.

No superior authority
- We don't want to overrule Norwegian foreign policy. Our main philosophy is: Let the politicians take care of politics, and the businesspeople do business, says Korssjøen and adds that this is a matter of having different roles to play. The state owns 50.02% of the Kongsberg Group, and is by far the largest stockholder in the company. The other stockholders have holdings of only a couple of percent each. Korssjøen tells NorWatch that the Government does not play an active role in the operation of the Kongsberg Group, but is represented at stockholders' meetings together with other stockholders. - We're not responsible to the state, says Korssjøen, but we do listen to what Norwegian authorities say. In spite of this, Kongsberg Simrad is entering markets in a country that Norwegian authorities time and again have requested companies not to deal with. - It's not illegal to do business with Burma, and at the same time the question remains as to what is better for the country: the presence of international companies or not, says Korssjøen.

"- We let the politicians take care of politics, and the businesspeople do business."
President of Kongsberg Maritime, Jan Erik Korssjøen.

Kværner
At the first Expo in 1996, Kværner participated through its company in Malaysia, Kvaerner Process Systems Asia Pacific. Trygve Haug of Kværner tells NorWatch that the company quickly decided not to invest in or do business with the country. Just after the Expo in 1996, Norway's consul-general in Burma, James Leander Nichols, was arrested for "unauthorized use of fax machine". According to a fellow prisoner, Nichols was tortured and ill-treated in jail where he later died. Haug says that the arrest of Nichols was one of the factors that influenced Kværner's decision.

Violations
Burma's present regime has since 1988 -when the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) came to power after a violent coup d'‚tat - ruled the country with an iron hand. Those opposing the regime have been imprisoned and tortured; institutes of higher education have been closed; and demonstrations have been dissolved by the use of force. The country has been under military rule since 1962 and is still ruled by decree instead of a constitution. In November 1997, the SLORC was renamed the State Peace and Development Council. Burma's fate received worldwide attention in 1991 when Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but this has not really affected the way Burma is ruled. Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader of the National League of Democracy (NLD), which won the election in 1988. After the election, the NLD was denied its rightful position as a governing party, and has since then been suppressed and marginalized by the SLORC.

Due to her work, Suu Kyi was detained in house arrest, and even though she now has been released, the junta continues to monitor and limit her activities. The SLORC can do this and still remain within the law. Act No. 5/96 says that persons who express their political resistance in public can receive jail sentences of up to 20 years. In its report for 1996, Amnesty International says that in the course of the year close to 2,000 people had been arrested for political reasons, while more than 1,000 people, all jailed for political reasons, had spent all year in jail. Burma is a country with several ethnic groups, and following repeated violations, several of them have taken up arms to fight the SLORC regime. In spite of this, the SLORC continues its forced relocation of ethnic minorities, who on several occasions have had to perform forced labor. Burma's economic development has come a long ways since the country in 1987 was regarded as the United Nations' least developed country. In June 1996 the country was
given observer status in the Association for South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is a step on the road to full membership.

The country's regime is giving top priority to the development of its oil, gas and energy resources.

Norway and Burma
Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik (Christian Democratic Party) has previously described Burma as one of the world's worst dictatorships. He has expressed strong support for those struggling to create a democratic Burma. As early as 1996, State Secretary Jan Egeland of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD) warned Norwegian enterprises against setting up shop in Burma, but he differentiated between exploring the possibilities and making investments. According to Olav Berge of the UD, this policy is still valid, as no changes have been announced. This means that it is not illegal to trade with, set up business in, or invest in the country. However, the Norwegian authorities have asked all companies, private and state-owned, not to have any dealings with Burma as long as conditions remain unchanged. According to Minister for International Development and Human Rights Hilde Frafjord Johnson, this practice is unique for Norway. Nevertheless, more than 30 Norwegian companies do business with Burma according to lists published by the Norwegian Directorate of Customs and Excise.

Reactions
After NorWatch published the information about Kongsberg Simrad's presence at the Expo in Burma, Minister of Trade and Industry Lars Sponheim criticized the company for its initiative.

- The Government resents your plan to visit the Expo in Burma, Sponheim told the Kongsberg Group the day after the news was published. The very same day the management changed its mind and CEO Jan T. Jørgensen told the Norwegian News Agency (NTB):

- We have understood that this is an important issue for the Government, and have therefore chosen not to participate. But we have challenged the Government to make clear its position, so that Norwegian companies at all times know which policy to deal with.

According to the newspaper Drammens tidende / Buskerud Blad, Jørgensen considers the Government "somewhat hypersensitive" in this matter, and says that the company will observe Norwegian rules and regulations with regard to Burma. The NTB says it might be time for the Government to consider making it illegal to deal with the military regime.

Kongsberg Simrad in Burma
Kongsberg Simrad is the largest company within Kongsberg Maritime, the Kongsberg Group's civilian business area. The company's main products are maritime systems for the offshore and ocean survey markets, and systems for process automation and simulation. Kongsberg Simrad Pte. Ltd. in Singapore is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Kongsberg Group.

The Kongsberg Group is owned 50.02% by the Norwegian government. Other stockholders include security, pension and mutual funds, but these are holdings of only a couple of percent each. At the end of February Kongsberg Simrad will participate in an Oil & Gas Expo arranged by Burma's Ministry of Energy.

Norwatch Newsletter 5/98

- Annonse -