U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced the lifting of U.S. import bans on Burma in response to democratic reforms implemented by the new government there.
Clinton announced the decision Wednesday after her meeting with Burma's President Thein Sein on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. She said the United States is taking this step in recognition of the continued progress toward reform and in response to requests from both the Burmese government and the opposition.
Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi stopped in Washington last week during her tour of the United States, the first since she's been freed from detention almost two years ago. She urged the United States to lift the economic sanctions for the benefit of the Burmese people.
Clinton told President Thein Sein that Washington is taking this next step in normalizing its commercial relationship with Burma in the hope of providing more opportunities for Burmese people to sell their goods in the U.S. market.
The U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is repealing a 2004 rule that required certain U.S. financial institutions to take special measures directed at two of Burma's then-largest banks, Myanmar Mayflower Bank and Asia Wealth Bank. FinCEN is also withdrawing its 2003 identification of these banks as financial institutions of primary money laundering concern.
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.
Washington has begun to relax some of the sanctions to reward Burma for taking significant steps toward democracy.