Responsible Supply Chains in Asia

Impact of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on Decent Work and working conditions in Myanmar

This side event for the upcoming Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum examines the role FDI has on economic growth, social development and decent work in Myanmar

Type: Technical discussion (invitation only)
Participants: 30 people
Venue: ESCAP, Meeting Room G (TBC)
Date: 13 June 2019
Time: 12.30-14.00 

Organizers: International Labour Organization (RSCA programme) in partnership with the European Union (EU)
*Lunch will be provided outside of the room. The discussion will be in English.

Context in Brief

The ILO hosts this side event in the context of the “Responsible Supply Chains in Asia” (RSCA) programme, a joint partnership between the EU, ILO and OECD aiming at increasing the understanding and knowledge of CSR and RBC. This partnership aims to advance sustainable and inclusive growth by encouraging businesses to adopt policies and practices in the areas of human and labour rights and environmental protection standards in line with international principles and guidelines, such as the ILO’s MNE Declaration and the OECD’s MNE Guidelines. The project focuses on closer aligning working conditions in supply chains with international labour standards including by promoting corporate due diligence and encouraging the positive contribution of business - through implementing corporate social responsibility (CSR) - to sustainable development and decent work, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This regional project covers China, Japan, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, and works in specific economic sectors within each of these countries. In Myanmar, the project focuses on the agriculture and seafood sectors, which account for a high number of jobs in the country and plays an important role in the Myanmar economy and in the trade linkages between Myanmar and the European Union.

A recent study “Impact of Foreign Direct Investment on Decent Work Conditions in Myanmar”, authored by the Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD) and commissioned by the ILO, highlighted some impacts of FDI in Myanmar, including: 1) increased investment in the manufacturing and service sectors; 2) creation of more formal job opportunities; and 3) promotion of export growth. The enactment of new labour and investment laws have contributed to stronger coherence with international standards, particularly the 2016 Myanmar Investment Law, which now ensures that domestic and foreign investors are equally accountable for investing responsibly in the country.

This roundtable event will provide the opportunity to deepen discussion of the impacts of FDI on decent work, while also exploring areas identified for growth, including:
• Further development of information sharing and monitoring mechanisms to enhance the implementation of responsible business practices by businesses
• Raising awareness and knowledge on international instruments, including the ILO MNE Declaration
• Improvement of social dialogue, in particular in relation to labour practices and engagement of MNEs to promote the decent work agenda along their global supply chains

Objective and scope

The aim of the side event is to provide a space for an open dialogue around the impact of foreign direct investment on decent work and working conditions in Myanmar. It is expected that the insights provided through this dialogue will contribute significantly to the policy discussion around three pillars of Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (2018 – 2030): 1) better support peace promotion via responsible investment in under-developed areas of the country; 2) contribute to stronger governance as regulatory policies and practices become more efficient and transparent; and 3) lead to more socially responsible business growth that prioritises decent work.

Specific objectives

• Share of experiences in implementing programmes/approaches to promote good business behaviour among buyers and suppliers in the country
• Deepen engagement, strengthen partnership and promote cooperation and coordination on socially responsible business practices in the context of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Myanmar.
• Explore opportunities to improve social dialogue on labour laws and raise awareness of international standards
• Identify actions to continue working on the enabling environment for the promotion of socially responsible labour practices
• Build knowledge on how to maximize the positive impacts of FDI in Myanmar


• Four speakers from Myanmar will share the initiatives to promote socially responsible practices in investment and business and the impact of FDI on decent working condition in Myanmar.
• The set up will be a roundtable discussion monitored by a moderator with knowledge and experience in the topic. Key questions to be addressed are listed below, with the aim that all participants will contribute to the discussion.


• U Thant Sin Lwin, Director General, Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) (TBC)
• Ms. Hnin Wun Yee, Research and Outreach Manager, Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB)
• Dr. Zaw Oo, Executive Director, CESD (Think-tank)
• (Mr. Min Zar Ni) or (Ms. Ngu Wah Win) (CESD) (TBC)
• Moderator: Mr. Rory Mungoven, ILO Liaison Officer, Myanmar


12:30 - 12:40: Introduction to the session and panellists (moderator)
12:40 - 13:30: Discussion moderated, with answers from the main speakers and questions posed by the moderator.
13:30 - 13:50: Questions and Answers from the audience
13:45 - 14:00: Wrap up and next steps

Key Questions:

1. How has FDI impacted Myanmar regarding the country’s overall development and social and labour standards?
2. What is the Myanmar Investment Promotion Plan?
3. What policies practices, or initiatives have been undertaken to promote socially responsible business practices?
4. How is the issue of compliance being addressed and enforced?
5. What actions have been taken to increase knowledge and understanding of responsible business conduct and labour laws among businesses and workers?
6. What are the key challenges for policy makers when working together with the private sector? (Investor influence on economic and social development? Lack of investor interest? Policy coherence and coordination across ministries? Enforcement/Compliance by business? Difficulties measuring the social impacts of FDI?)
7. What are the methods being employed to facilitate institutional coordination on policy coherence, information sharing, and monitoring?
8. How can international community support the efforts of social dialogue and capacity building to promote socially responsible labour practices in the country.
9. How can the ILO Responsible Supply Chains in Asia programme facilitate policy dialogue and information sharing amongst government, local businesses, MNEs, unions, employer associations and foreign investors?
10. In what specific areas can training be provided to partners?

Expected outputs of the session:

• Understanding FDI impact in Myanmar on labour-related responsible business policies, strategies and initiatives
• Knowledge of good practices and issues of concern regarding labour standards and socially responsible business practices
• Development of a follow up joint strategy action plan on how to maximise the positive impacts of FDI in Myanmar
• Conference notes on recommendations and follow up actions