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Published on Monday, 19 November 2012 05:57
The United States lifted its sanctions on imports from Myanmar on November 16, just three days before the historic visit of President Barack Obama.
The US said the move was in response to and in support of the ongoing democratic reforms carried out in Myanmar. The Myanmar government had also expressed its desire for US to lift sanctions so as to be able to tap that export market.
Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, had said in September that the US will consider easing the sanctions imposed on Myanmar.
Although the ban was lifted, gems and jewellery from Myanmar are still barred. Also, companies owned or controlled by Steven Law and Tay Za are still sanctioned by the US on grounds that they have connections with the former junta.
The US stated that it was still concerned about corruption, political prisoners and Myanmar’s continued ties with North Korea despite positive reforms taking place.
It is expected that on the day of Obama’s visit on November 19, more political prisoners would be given amnesty, said a political observer who requested not to be named.
Obama is the first serving US president to visit Myanmar. In the past, the highest ranking official from the US to visit Myanmar was then vice president Richard Nixon who stayed for two days in 1953.
The US established diplomatic relations with Myanmar in 1947. Investments in Myanmar amount to US$243.565 million, which is less than 1 per cent of total foreign investment in Myanmar. US is the ninth-biggest foreign nvestor, according to official statistics.
Now, some among the top 500 US companies are known to be planning to invest in Myanmar. Among them are the GE, which has already been investing in Myanmar.