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Foreign businesses question Myanmar foreign currency rules

BANGKOK (AP) – Foreign business groups in Myanmar have raised concerns about new rules requiring businesses and individuals to convert all foreign currency held in bank accounts into the local currency.

A statement issued yesterday by the American Chamber of Commerce and British, French, Australian chambers and similar groups say the rules would lower Myanmar standards of living, stop foreign business activity and foreign investment and cause trade tensions.

“As written, the regulations effectively prevent the use of foreign currency in Myanmar which disconnects Myanmar from the global economy and global financial system,” it says.

“Implementation of these measures and the associated lack of clear exemptions for foreign investments creates significant, and for some, insurmountable challenges to all businesses operating in Myanmar,” the statement says.

Details of the new rules have yet to be announced. But the central bank said in another notice that they would apply to income from export and other sources such as services, investments, loans for investment and other transactions.

The change appears aimed at helping make up for a shortfall in hard currency following a February 1, 2021 military takeover that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The United States (US) and other Western countries have imposed targetted sanctions on the military, army-affiliated businesses, military leaders and their families.