On September 14, President Obama announced his intent to terminate the National Emergency with respect to Burma, nearly 20 years after economic and financial sanctions were first imposed on Burma. The announcement came after the President met and discussed these issues with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, during her first visit to the United States in her new capacity.
This historic visit is testament to the tremendous change Burma has undergone in the past few years. Burma now has democratically-elected civilian leadership for the first time in over half a century, and is focused on bringing peace and national reconciliation, economic prosperity and social welfare, and respect for human rights to its people.
Much has changed for Burma’s people, but our goal remains the same: to see a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Burma in which all people live in harmony and are able to fully enjoy their rights, and to continue to build a close friendship between the people of Burma and the United States.
As partners of Burma, and in support of requests by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her elected administration, President Obama decided to make significant adjustments to our policies to assist her and the rest of the Government of Burma as they continue the process of political reform and seek to deliver much needed economic growth and prosperity.
President Obama announced his intention to take action to lift Executive Order-based economic and financial sanctions on Burma. In particular, he intends to terminate the national emergency with respect to Burma, which has been in place since 1997, an action that reflects Burma’s progress on democratization and human rights. For more information, please see the website of the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
At the same time, significant challenges remain with respect to the realization of a full democratic, civilian government, and human rights of all people of Burma, including the country’s diverse array of ethnic groups. The United States will continue to support the democratic aspirations of the people of Burma, and will work closely with the government to develop new policies to address these challenges, including the disproportionate role of the military in the economy and the need for responsible and transparent investment and business practices, in particular in the jadeite and gemstones sector.
President Obama also welcomes Burma’s commitment to work with the U.S. Government on strengthening Burma’s ability to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, an effort that is critical to Burma’s reintegration into the international financial system.
In this regard, several restrictions remain in place. JADE Act visa ineligibilities remain in effect, including with respect to military leaders and those who provide substantial political and economic support to the Burmese military. Remaining restrictions on foreign assistance to Burma include limitations on assistance to Burma’s military.
We look forward to continued close engagement with the U.S. Congress as we implement these remaining restrictions and consider any future adjustments, as necessary.