News / Asia

US to Lift Burma Import Ban

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is handed an envelope from Burma's President Thein Sein as they meet in New York  Sept. 26, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is handed an envelope from Burma's President Thein Sein as they meet in New York Sept. 26, 2012.
VOA News
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Washington will take steps to lift a ban on imports from Burma in response to continued reforms by the country's military-backed government.

At a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Clinton told Burma's President Thein Sein that the U.S. will "begin the process" of easing restrictions on Burmese goods into the United States.

The move, to be made with the cooperation of Congress, would represent the removal of the last major U.S. trade sanction against Burma, which is recovering from decades of political and economic isolation.

It follows recent U.S. decisions to restore diplomatic relations and lift sanctions on U.S. investment in Burma.

President Thein Sein, who has overseen a wave of reforms since taking power last year, said he was "very grateful" and that the Burmese people are "very pleased" with the American moves.

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi last week expressed her support for lifting the import ban, saying further easing of sanctions would help the Burmese people. Clinton said Wednesday the move was made in part because of requests from both the government and the opposition.

Bo Hla Tint, Burma analyst and former foreign minister of the Washington-based Burma government-in-exile, says he expects the move will, over time, benefit Burma's poverty-stricken population.

"The United States is one of the biggest markets not only for Burma, but also for other countries in the Asian region," he said. "So it will be very helpful."

Bo Hla Tint says Burma is probably not ready to begin building factories that would produce clothing and other textiles that could be imported to the United States. But he says the move is important because it could persuade Burma's leaders to continue making democratic reforms.

Since taking power in March of last year, the government of Thein Sein, a former general, has begun releasing political prisoners, relaxing censorship and opening dialogue with the democratic opposition and armed ethnic minority groups.

But Washington has continued to push Burma to take further steps, including releasing all remaining political prisoners, making peace deals with ethnic groups and ending suspected ties with North Korea's military.

Jennifer Quigley of the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma says that she is disappointed at the lifting of the import ban, but she acknowledges that it will have some positive impact.

"There will be some jobs available to some of those in the urban areas that were previously not there. But our bigger concern is that the very last piece of leverage against the Burmese military is now gone," said Quigley. "And sanctions were imposed for human rights and political reasons, so it doesn't really leave any opportunity to apply any pressure going forward for the big problems that remain in the country."

Some observers have speculated that Washington is partly motivated to renew relations with Burma as part of its strategic pivot towards Asia, which is seen by many as an attempt to counter the rising influence of China.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid