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US Industry Group Calls for Renewed Ban on Burmese Exports

An industry group representing U.S. footwear and clothing companies and their suppliers has called on U.S. lawmakers to renew a ban on Burmese exports.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association sent a letter to members of the U.S. Congress urging them to pass legislation that would extend sanctions against Burma under the 2003 Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act.

The Senate and House of Representatives are considering identical resolutions that would extend the ban - which is set to expire on July 26 - by up to three more years.

The trade association's president, Kevin Burke, says the continued ban would send a clear message that the United States is not interested in doing business with "regimes like the one that brutally enslaves the people of Burma". Burke added that he hopes the international community will join the United States in demonstrating that there is "no room for oppression in the global marketplace."

U.S. lawmakers are considering renewing the ban as Burma's most prominent opposition figure, Aung San Suu Kyi, stands trial for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest.

Burma's military government has ignored calls to free the Nobel Peace Prize winner and the country's thousands of political prisoners.

Burmese authorities denied United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon permission to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi during his two-day visit to the country last week.

The 64-year-old pro-democracy activist has been under detention for 13 of the past 19 years.