Burma pressure group urges government to lead EU sanctions.

The Burma Campaign has urged the Foreign Office to speak out against insurers writing business in Burma.

The pressure group has also asked the government to take the lead on targeted EU financial sanctions against the Burmese regime. In a letter to the Foreign Office, it pointed out that Lloyd’s has said it would stop trading with Burma only if EU sanctions were in place.

David Gittings, chief executive of the Lloyd’s Market Association, has defended the actions of Lloyd’s in providing insurance services to Burma. He said if Lloyd’s were not breaching any sanctions, he saw no reason to cease doing business.

Johnny Chatterton, campaigns officer at the Burma Campaign, said: “We are calling for the British government to push for targeted EU financial sanctions against the insurance sector, which will help shut down the regime’s financial lifeline. We know 14 insurance companies have provided insurance to companies in Burma.”

Last year US sanctions prevented 11 of the top 30 firms providing insurance to the troubled region.

Critics of economic sanctions say they punish ordinary citizens. However, reports from the Burma Campaign found that almost half of the government’s budget is spent on the military and only 1.4% is spent on health and education.