US Lifts Sanctions Against Myanmar after Three Decades
By admin September 23, 2016

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Last Wednesday, President Obama announced that the U.S. is prepared to lift economic sanctions against Myanmar, in recognition of the country’s progress towards democratic reform, after a White House meeting with Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. This decision by the White House ends approximately three decades of strained political relations with Myanmar, which was known as Burma until 1989.

The U.S. has already relaxed its sanctions on Myanmar as the country slowly instituted political reforms over the last few years. Nevertheless, the U.S.–Myanmar trade remains small at a reported USD $225 million last year, while U.S. investment was a mere 0.2 percent of USD $9.4 billion in foreign direct investment, according to the figures published by Commerce Ministry. Meanwhile, Japanese, Singaporean, and South Korean investment have surged ahead; China has long been Myanmar’s dominant investor and trade partner.

The U.S decision to lift trade sanctions against Myanmar has been greatly welcomed by local economists and businessmen, who hold the belief that it will remove a major constraint on international trade with the impoverished country and boost growth across its economy. Specifically, this decision will remove more than 100 businessmen tied to the former military regime from a U.S. Treasury blacklist and lift restrictions on Myanmar’s jade and gemstone industry. Also, it ends the State Department’s special reporting requirements for American investors. In addition, Myanmar was granted greater access to the market, being listed in the General System of Preferences by the U.S.

The removal of these sanctions will boost and thrive the economy in Myanmar. With more foreign direct investment in the country, it could create jobs and improve the standard of living of people in Myanmar in return. The private sector, especially in industries like energy, healthcare, transportation, and finance, will play a rather important role in sustaining Myanmar’s economic growth and modernizing the country.

The news was hugely welcomed by the U.S. business community, which has seen great potential market opportunities along with the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Myanmar. “This historic move will allow trade and investment between our two countries to grow, supporting Myanmar’s long-term economic development and helping its citizens rise out of poverty while also benefiting growth and jobs here at home,” said Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President for International Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The legal hurdles kept many potential foreign investors from entering Myanmar, Asia’s last frontier market, while also destroying Myanmar exports to other countries. Pwint San, a businessman and former deputy minister of commerce, said these issues would be the history soon. “If the sanctions are lifted totally, our economy can move more freely,” he told VOA. “We can export effectively and they (U.S. firms) can invest in Myanmar.” Maung Maung, an economist with the Ministry of Commerce, said the decision would help all sorts of exporters access the American market and end difficulties for local businesses trying to use international financial services.

For more information:

US eases economic sanctions on Myanmar

President Obama Pledges to Lift Myanmar Sanctions

Obama’s Move to End Myanmar Sanctions Promises a Lift for Its Economy

Lifting Burma’s Sanctions: Who is the Real Winner?

In Myanmar, Mixed Reactions to The Lifting of U.S. Sanctions


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