Greens Push for Sanctions on Myanmar Timber & Banks to Stop Junta

Wed 30 Aug 23


The Greens have called on the Australian Government to sanction Myanmar’s state-owned enterprises and banks, which now “fall under the total control of the military junta.”

Last month, Wood Central reported that the regime had opened secret bank accounts to smuggle conflict timber.

The revelations come from the Irrawaddy, a news website run by Burmese exiles living in Thailand overnight.

They allege that the Myanmar Timber Enterprise, already sanctioned by the European Union, the United States and the UK, is working to use MEB bank accounts to bypass international financial sanctions.

According to the Greens, Australia has only introduced targeted sanctions on 16 members of the Myanmar military regime’s governing State Administration Council (SAC) and sanctions on two military-owned holding companies.

The Myanmar Campaign Network claims Australia has imported AU $2.5 million of timber and wood products since the coup d’etat.

“The reliance on ASEAN to adequately respond,” according to the Greens, “falls short of what the people of Myanmar so desperately need and deserve.”

“It also falls short of other state’s responses such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Europe.”

A barge laden with timber floats along the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. The image, dated 2018, predates the military controlled dictatorship. (Photo Credit: thaths CC BY SA 2.0 via IFPRI Flicker)
A barge laden with timber floats along the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. The image, dated 2018, predates the military-controlled dictatorship. (Photo Credit: thaths CC BY SA 2.0 via IFPRI Flicker)

Earlier this year, the US imposed sanctions on Myanma Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) and Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB).

According to Brian Nelson, the US Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, “Burma’s military regime has leveraged state-run access to international markets to import weapons and materiel, including from sanctioned Russian entities, to continue its violence and oppression.”

The US alleges that the military facilitated international trade by revenue-generating state enterprises such as MTE and the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

The sanctions directly target oil, gas (and timber) enterprises connected to the regime. Footage courtesy of @WION.

The Greens are now calling on the Australian Government to follow suit and impose sanctions on the Myanmar Timber Enterprise as well as the following financial institutions:

  • Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) 
  • Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB)
  • Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) 
  • Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL)

Despite sanctions imposed, Myanmar timber, now recognised as “conflict timber” by PEFC and FSC, continues infiltrating international supply chains. 

According to the US-based Forest Trends, Myanmar exported US $190 million worth of timber to the US, EU and other Western countries following the coup d’etat 

The country also exported US $154 million worth of timber to China, India, Thailand and other countries.

As reported by Wood Central, Myanmar-sourced teak continues to be a highly sought-after product in luxury items such as boat building.

The 127-meter-long yacht “Koru” (the Māori word for ‘new beginnings, life and hope’), owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, which allegedly uses Myanmar teak on the decks and bow (Photo Credit: Oceanco)

Between February and November 2021, it was alleged that illegal private brokers or intermediaries were used to acquire US $37 million through the European Union and the US alone.


  • Wood Central

    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.

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