Kirin's exit from Myanmar stokes debate on corporate responsibility

The Japanese brewer’s hasty retreat from the junta-led country spotlights difficulties firms face while seeking to uphold ESG principles. A potentially bigger test looms in China.

Kirin's hasty retreat from Myanmar spotlights difficulties firms face while seeking to uphold environmental, social, and governance principles. PHOTO: REUTERS
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(FINANCIAL TIMES) - Just five days after Myanmar's military seized power on Feb 1, the Japanese brewer Kirin expressed grave concerns and announced that it was terminating its five-year-old joint venture with a company controlled by the army.

Superficially, Kirin's cutting of ties with MEHL - Myanmar Economic Holdings - looked decisive. The joint venture controls a dominant share of the fast-growing beer market. It was the sort of lead-taking stand that appeared to put ethics over profits, and immediately raised questions about how many of the 400-plus Japanese companies operating in Myanmar would join the retreat.

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