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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid