At present, it has inter-linked offices strategically located throughout Asia-including Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), China and India.
Siam Canadian, in an effort to expand its bases, had to determine if opening a branch in Burma would be feasible at that time. It was important for the company to explore the possible risks of such a move, and a study of the country of Burma was necessary.
One risk that needed to be addressed was the United States decision in April 1997, to clamp sanctions on Burma. It quickly became evident, however, that the United States had less economic leverage in Burma than in many countries around the world. And it failed to persuade Burma's neighbors in the region-- its primary trading partners -- to join in any form of sanctions.3 Effects of US economic sanctions also were offset by Burma's admission into the Association of South-East Asian Nations in 1997. One Burmese official had already shrugged off the sanctions. "We have been surviving without any assistance from the US government for years, so I don't think these sanctions will have any effect on the Myanmar (Burmese) economy," he said.4
Another possible risk was the existence of a powerful military group, which in 1997 was renamed Union Solidarity Development Association and was recognized as the military junta's political wing. Nevertheless, Siam Canadian was not affected by these risks. Thailand has never expressed openly what sectors might be at risk from market access, but it has had experience in agriculture and food sectors and the strategy has always been to conform to importing countries' expectations.
It must be noted that Burma (renamed Myanmar Naing Ngan in 1989), is an ethnically complex and diverse nation, which the UN in 1997 named a least developed country. Serious complaints about human rights violations appeared in the news, and this could cause market difficulties with other companies outside of Asia. A Human Rights Watch report dated July 1997 (Vol. 9, No. 6) documented the continued systematic violation of internationally recognized human rights by the Burmese military against ethnic minority villagers in Burma's Karen, Mon and Shan States during 1996 and 1997. It also catalogued the treatment by the Thai authorities of those who fled these abuses and sought refuge in Thailand. The growing hostility of the Thai authorities towards refugees from Burma grew in direct proportion to the increased economic cooperation between the Burmese and Thai governments.5
Because of its dependence on its Asian neighbors, Burma would be receptive to having Siam Canadian open a branch in their country, and would benefit greatly from the economic opportunities such an action would bring. Burma, at the time Siam Canadian was looking into the benefits and risks of moving into the country, was an agricultural economy with largely undeveloped industrial sector, and a small manufacturing sector dominated by food processing. This would