WASHINGTON - Fifty U.S. business executives will visit Burma next week to explore trade and investment opportunities in the resource-rich nation now that the United States has eased sanctions, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said on Friday.

"This delegation trip is an important milestone,'' Tami Overby, the chamber's vice president for Asia said in a statement. "We have made tremendous progress in normalizing economic relations between our countries. It is now time to take the relationship to the next level.''

It will be the first major U.S. business delegation to go to Burma since President Barack Obama's historic visit to the country in November. It will include representatives of companies from agribusiness and the automotive, electronics, energy, retailing, telecommunications, and other sectors, the business group said.
The group will take part in a trade and investment symposium in Rangoon that will bring together senior business executives and government officials from both countries.
The United States has softened sanctions on Burma and removed a ban on most imports from the Southeast Asian nation in response to the country's democratic reforms.

Washington relaxed sanctions on four large banks in Burma on Friday, allowing them access to the U.S. financial system.

The Treasury Department issued a general license to the Myanma Economic Bank, Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank, Asia Green Development Bank and Ayeyarwady Bank.
A general license eases restrictions and lets the banks deal with U.S. citizens and companies, but leaves sanctions laws on the books, giving Washington leverage should Burma start to backslide on reforms.

Obama was the first American president to visit the country.