Secretary of State Clinton announced September 26 that the United States would begin the process of easing restrictions on imports of Burmese (Myanmarese) goods in response to the substantial and significant reforms that have taken place in that country over the past year.
The United States has taken another step in the normalization of our bilateral economic relationship by broadly authorizing Burmese-origin goods to enter the United States for the first time in almost a decade. The government of Burma and Burmese leadership, including Aung San Suu Kyi, have expressed a desire that the import ban be eased in order to further integrate their country into the global economy.
The joint actions by the Departments of State and Treasury are intended to support the Burmese government’s ongoing reform efforts and to encourage further change, as well as to offer new opportunities for Burmese and American businesses. President Thein Sein’s government has released hundreds of political prisoners, removed pre-publication censorship requirements for the press, and enacted a labor law that permits the formation of labor unions. The government has also passed a new Foreign Investment Law, and is making efforts to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. It has established ceasefire agreements with ten armed ethnic groups, is pursuing negotiations with the last major ethnic armed group that has not yet signed a ceasefire agreement, and is establishing mechanisms to work toward a sustainable ethnic reconciliation process. Steps have been taken toward democratization; the parliamentary by-elections held in April 2012 were largely free and fair, and 43 opposition party members were elected to Parliament.
In light of these positive changes, the United States is issuing a waiver and general license to ease the ban on imports into the United States of products from Burma required by section 3(a) of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 (BFDA) and implemented by Executive Order 13310 of July 28, 2003. However, as concerns about some areas of trade with respect to Burma remain, this waiver and license do not affect the existing prohibitions and restrictions on the importation of jadeite and rubies mined or extracted from Burma, and on articles of jewelry containing them, imposed by the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008, which amended the BFDA. We are committed to working with the Government of Burma to address these concerns.
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