U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Washington will take steps to lift a ban on imports from Burma in response to “continued progress toward reform” in the Southeast Asian nation.
At a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Clinton told Burma’s President Thein Sein that lifting the import ban is the “next step in normalizing our commercial relationship” with Burma.
The move, which will be made with the cooperation of Congress, would represent the removal of the last U.S. major trade sanction against Burma, which is recovering from decades of political and economic isolation.
Clinton said the U.S. will “begin the process of easing restrictions on Burmese goods into the United States,” saying she hopes this will provide more opportunities for Burmese people to sell their goods into the U.S. market.
President Thein Sein, who has undertaken a wave of reforms since taking power last year, said following the meeting that he was “very grateful” and that the Burmese people are “very pleased” with the U.S. moves to relax sanctions.
Last week, Clinton also met with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is on a multi-week tour of the United States. The democracy leader urged Washington to lift further economic sanctions to help benefit Burmese people.
Clinton said Wednesday that the U.S. was lifting the import ban in response to requests from both the government and the opposition.” It follows recent U.S. moves to restore diplomatic relations and lift sanctions on U.S. investment in Burma.
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.