Hot! Senate Approves Ban on Imports from Myanmar

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The Senate has finally approved a bill that will reauthorize the U.S. ban on imports from Myanmar, along with White House authority to waive the restriction if the country continues to make political and economic reforms.

The ban on U.S. imports from Burma will be reauthorized for three years with a clause stating the president or the secretary of state could decide to wave the prohibition for one year if Myanmar has met conditions such as more human rights and freeing prisoners.

Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats said he expects the congressional opposition to the recent lifting of sanctions on U.S. investment in Burma will not result in a repeal.

According to Hormats, in order to increase transparency and reduce corruption, Burma has agreed to join the Extraction Industries Transparency Initiative, which monitors industry practices and revenue flow.

Still, the undersecretary noted that if the Burmese government wants more sanctions lifted it will have to release more prisoners and resolve cultural minority issues.

According to The Star, US businesses have pressed for a greater lifting of restrictions, fearing that they will lose out to competitors from European and Asian nations whose governments do not impose sanctions on Myanmar.

Burma is becoming increasingly attractive to foreign investors primarily due to its mineral deposits including a rich source of oil and natural gas. Currently, several mining companies from China and Australia are commencing operations in Myanmar.

Additionally, the U.S. is establishing and reaffirming military connections in Southeast Asia as China is contemporaneously increasing its presence. Therefore Myanmar is an important strategic location for both of these superpowers.

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