New York: Appreciating Myanmar’s march toward reforms, the US is set to ease its import ban on Burmese goods, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday as she met Myanmar President Thein Sein and Aung Saan Suu Kyi on sidelines of UN General Assembly.
“In recognition of the continued progress toward reform and in response to requests from both the government and the opposition, the United States is taking the next step in normalizing our commercial relationship,” Hillary said.
“We will begin the progress of easing restrictions on imports of Burmese goods into the United States,” Clinton said. “We hope this will provide more opportunities for your people to sell their goods into our market.”
The sanctions against Myanmar began to be eased after Myanmar started moving ahead on the path of reforms and the new government brought the democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi into mainstream politics.
Earlier, the US had dismantled investment ban on Myanmar in June after Obama administration resumed normal diplomatic relations with the country.
Reacting to the US move, Myanmar President Thein Sein, who is in New York for UN General Assembly, said, “We are very grateful for the actions of the United States,” said.
The Myanmar president is due to address the General Assembly on Thursday, and he is not expected to cross paths with Suu Kyi.
Hillary Clinton met Myanmar President and offered US help in Myanmar’s efforts for peace with its different ethnic minorities and in clearing mines from the country. She urged the end of Myanmar’s military relations with North Korea.
The import ban on Myanmar, which formed a considerable chunk of American trade sanctions, was adopted under a 2003 act by Congress, although US imports from Myanmar were exceedingly small.
As the sanctions are now eased, specific companies will still be subject to U.S. sanctions so that increased trade doesn’t reward corruption or poor ethical standards.
Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is on a landmark U.S. visit that coincides with the president’s visit, last week voiced support for the step, saying Myanmar should not depend on the U.S. to keep up its momentum for democracy. For years she advocated sanctions as a way of putting political pressure on the then-ruling junta.
The Myanmar opposition leader is revered by both Republicans and Democrats in Washington, and her endorsement is a key guide for US policymakers.
On Wednesday, Suu Kyi addressed a high-level U.N. meeting on education on the sidelines of the General Assembly.
Suu Kyi was last week, presented with US’ highest award, Congressional gold medal.
With Agency Inputs
First Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012, 10:32