FATF blocklisting will hurt Myanmar’s tourism

SINGAPORE, 25 October 2022: Myanmar’s tourism industry faces a significant setback in regaining the confidence of international travellers following the Financial Action Task Force’s decision to blocklist Myanmar for terrorism financing.

It will join other blocklisted nations such as Iran and North Korea.

According to a Nikkei Asia report on Monday, FATF was initially set up in 1989 by the Group of Seven advanced economies to counter money laundering. It has since expanded its mandate to counter terrorist financing and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

“FATF has recommended that Myanmar be blocklisted immediately and be subject to enhanced due diligence by member states. Officials familiar with its decision in Paris told Nikkei Asia that it stemmed mainly from concerns over Myanmar’s casinos and illicit cross-border trade.”

Since the military ousted an incoming elected civilian government in February 2021, FAFT claims there has been an increase in transnational criminal activities, including exporting synthetic drugs and online gambling.

FATF calls on countries to apply enhanced due diligence to business relations and transactions regarding Myanmar, which will indirectly impact tourism and hospitality enterprises in the country. Transferring payments for tourism and hotel services will come under stricter scrutiny as banks will impose additional due diligence requirements for transactions that involve the crisis-torn country.

According to Nikkei Asia, Myanmar was blocklisted for years until it was delisted in June 2016 — the year President Thein Sein’s quasi-military government handed power to Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government — in acknowledgement of progress made on criminalising terrorism financing.

The blocklisting imposes another hurdle — on top of the junta’s foreign exchange control and other hostile policies — for foreign companies and investors to do business.

(Source: Nikkei Asia)