Adani Ports, India’s largest integrated logistics player has announced that it will be shutting its operations in Myanmar. Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ) had gained control over the Yangon Port last year through a global competitive bid. The project required a $290 million investment and by May, earlier this year, the company had already invested $127 million, including a $90 million upfront payment for leasing land.
However, after a news report alleged that the Adani group and its top officials had met the Myanmar Army and orchestrated the port deal with Army backed companies, the US came calling with the sword of its sanctions.
As a result, APSEZ was forced to release a statement in August where it stated that its investment in the port was not in violation of any sanction guidelines issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of Treasury.
Adani Port dealt with Myanmar Army backed companies — USA
Adani Ports had stated, “The Company is in discussion with its US-based counsels to ensure that the Company is in compliance with the OFAC [Office of Foreign Assets Control] sanctions programs. In a scenario wherein Myanmar is classified as a sanctioned country under the OFAC or if OFAC opines that we are in violation of the current sanctions, the company has plans to abandon the project and will write-down its investments in the project in full,”
However, within two months, the company decided to pack its bags, not willing to slog through the sanction-ridden field ploughed by the US. The company’s board in its statement remarked, “The Board has decided to actively work on a plan on exiting Company’s investment in Myanmar including divestment opportunities (expected to be concluded by March – June 2022),”
China is strengthening rebels
Reported extensively by TFI, the Army coup in Myanmar in February, earlier this year had sent the country into a tailspin. Hundreds have been killed in the crackdowns which have drawn international condemnation and sanctions on military figures and military-controlled entities.
With the army taking control and a massive Covid-19 surge, the healthcare infrastructure is overwhelmed. The pandemic has aggravated Junta’s tensions, and now China is looking all set to further weaken Junta’s already fragile sway over the country by strengthening the rebel groups.
As per a report by Strait Times, Beijing has quietly shipped thousands of vaccines, medical workers, and construction materials for quarantine centres to help the rebel groups grappling with the pandemic.
With Adani leaving a key port, chances are high that China might swoop in and gain control over a major trading port, all whilst US engages itself in the morality of sanctions. China had firstly placed its bet on the military regime in Myanmar to usurp the rare earth minerals and help its sinking BRI project in the country. When it didn’t work out and things went south after the coup, the Xi Jinping regime found an alternate route to install itself in the country.