Coke stopped doing business in Myanmar more than 60 years ago. During a speech in March, Mr. Kent said that he hoped the company would be able to eventually sell Coke there, as well as in North Korea and Cuba.
“Coca-Cola’s long history is richly intertwined with the history of American foreign policy,” Mr. Kent said at the time, pointing out that the company made its first foray into Asia in 1912 when it entered the Philippines.
Coke has been notorious for quickly entering markets after the U.S. lifts sanctions.
The company had originally operated in China in 1927, but left in 1949 after Mao Zedong’s communist regime expelled most foreign businesses. In 1979, after president Jimmy Carter re-established full relations with China, Coke immediately sent 20,000 cases of the soft drink from Hong Kong to the mainland.
In 1989, after the Berlin Wall fell and Germany reunited, Coke employees in West Germany began handing out free soda to east Germans that day.
The U.S. lifted its ban on investing in Myanmar last month and General Electric and Caterpillar have signaled that they will make investments. However, lingering sectarian violence and mixed signals from the Obama administration over possible penalties for breaking disclosure and licensing rules have made some companies wary of moving too fast.
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