US eases economic sanctions on Myanmar

Jessica TranterLast Update : Wednesday 18 May 2016 - 3:25 AM
US eases economic sanctions on Myanmar

US eases economic sanctions on Myanmar

US President Barack Obama and Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi speak during a press conference at her residence in Yangon on November 14, 2014Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption US President Barack Obama last met with Aung San Suu Kyi in 2014

The US has removed more of its economic sanctions on Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, following historic political reforms in the country.

Myanmar swore in its first democratically-elected government this year after decades of military rule.

The US has lifted restrictions on 10 state-owned companies in the banking, timber and mining industries.

However, the overall effect will be limited given that many of Myanmar’s biggest businessmen remain blacklisted.

More than 100 individuals are still on Washington’s sanctions list, meaning US firms are barred from doing deals with them.

The country’s powerful military retain significant stakes in many of Myanmar’s businesses.

Nonetheless, the US said its latest move is aimed at improving trade flows with Myanmar and allowing more financial transactions to take place.

But the Obama administration is also trying to maintain pressure on the government to continue with its democratic transition.

US officials remain concerned about potential human rights abuses in the country, particularly against the minority Rohingya Muslims.

‘Significant step’

The US first began loosening its sanctions on Myanmar in 2011.

The hope is that the gradual lifting of sanctions will make it easier for them to operate and do business in the South East Asian country.

Major American companies such as General Electric and Coca Cola have set up shop in Myanmar recently.

“I think this is a significant step. I don’t think it’s a massive step,” Peter Harrell, a senior adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security told Reuters.

“The practical reality is if you can’t do business with military-owned companies, chunks of the economy are going to remain off limits.”

Source: BBC Business

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2016-05-18 2016-05-18
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Jessica Tranter