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Woodside and Suzuki join companies halting Myanmar operations


(ATF) Australia’s Woodside Petroleum and Japan’s Suzuki Motor are among international companies suspending operations in Myanmar after a military coup ousted the southeast Asian country’s civilian government and detained leaders including Nobel prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Global commodities trader Trafigura has suspended operations at its Puma Energy oil products terminal in Myanmar in response to the coup.

“We are aware of the developments in Myanmar and are monitoring the situation carefully,” a Trafigura spokesman said in a statement. “Our overwhelming priority at Puma Energy is the safety and security of our colleagues during this period of uncertainty.”

Denso, a Japanese automotive parts manufacturer, also halted production on Tuesday. Toyota Motor had announced it would start production in Myanmar this month, but the Japanese giant is said it was “monitoring the impact” of the coup on its plans.

Chinese companies have also been affected. Power Construction Corporation of China told the Global Times on Tuesday that projects under construction in Myanmar have been suspended.

“We’re standing by and personnel mobility is strictly forbidden so as to protect the workers’ safety,” an employee told the Beijing tabloid.

BAN ON FLIGHTS

China Communications Construction also said its infrastructure projects have been halted.  “We’re waiting for further instruction from the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar on whether there will be a withdrawal,” the employee noted.

It is not clear if foreign employees would be able to leave the country as all domestic and international flights have been suspended until at least April 30. The Yangon Stock Exchange, which suspended trading and settlement on Monday, has yet to reveal a timetable for resuming operations.

The coup is a second blow to Woodside in three months. The company shelved talks to sell stakes in a gas field and liquefied natural gas project to Chinese companies because of the diplomatic row between Australia and China, chief executive Peter Coleman said in November.

The coup has overturned the results of a November 2020 election, drawing criticism from the US and other countries.

“We have denounced in the strongest possible terms Burma’s military leaders for seeking to reject the will of the people … as expressed in democratic elections on November 8,” a US state department official said on February 2, using the country’s former official name.

With reporting by Reuters

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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