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US lifts Myanmar sanctions

Myanmar sanctions

​The US government has surprised people around the world by announcing it will lift all economic sanctions on Myanmar.

A recent meeting between US president Barack Obama and Myanmar's state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi featured talk of lifting the economic sanctions currently in effect on the Asian nation. The sanctions have been in place for over 25 years, but now it is under Ms Suu Kyi's leadership the US has changed its position.

During a visit to the White House, Ms Suu Kyi said: "We think that the time has now come to remove all the sanctions that hurt us economically, because our country is in a position to open up to those who are interested in taking part in our economic enterprises." President Obama seemed positive about this change.

"The United States is now prepared to lift sanctions that we have imposed on Burma for quite some time," he said.

"It is the right thing to do in order to ensure that the people of Burma see rewards from a new way of doing business and a new government."

One of the steps that will be taken is the re-addition of Myanmar - formerly Burma - to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). This is a US trade program that provides preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products.

Myanmar was removed from the GSP in 1989 after several pro-democracy protests were brutally suppressed.
However, that was under the rule of the military junta that ruled Myanmar, which lasted until 2011. Despite the junta dissolving, free elections were not held in Myanmar until last year, when Ms Suu Kyi's party - the National League for Democracy - was elected with an absolute majority.

If Myanmar is re-added to the GSP, it could make it a lot more attractive for businesses to trade with the country. However, the outcome of this is not certain yet. There are plenty of people in the US government who believe that easing sanctions would not help the majority of Myanmar's populace.

Nevertheless, this promises to be very positive for businesses looking to invest in the country's economy. As it has been out-of-bounds for some time, there are plenty of opportunities for overseas investors.