Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the US will ease its import ban on Burma that had been a key plank of remaining American economic sanctions.
“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 normalising our commercial relationship,” Clinton said on Wednesday during a meeting with President Thein Sein on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
“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 announcement follows the Obama administration’s resumption of normal diplomatic relations and the suspension of a US investment ban. “We are very grateful for the actions of the United States,” Thein Sein said.
Wednesday’s third ever face-to-face between Clinton and Thein Sein was warm, a State Department official said.
It began with the Burmese leader handing Clinton a letter to President Barack Obama. Clinton offered US help in Burma’s efforts for peace with its different ethnic minorities and in clearing mines from the country.
She urged the end of Burma’s military relations with North Korea. Even before the import ban was adopted more than a decade ago, US imports from Burma were exceedingly small. Some trade existed in hardwood, gems and garments, the official said.
As the sanctions are now eased, specific companies will still be subject to US sanctions so that increased trade doesn’t reward corruption or poor ethical standards.