President of United States Barack Obama said on Wednesday the US would soon lifts its economic sanction against Myanmar as he met with Aung San Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner who is the now the leader of Myanmar.
Obama announced the lifting of sanctions at White House in his first meeting with the leader of Myanmar since she became her country’s leader. He said in a joint media appearance with Aung San Suu kyi “The United States is now prepared to lift sanctions that we have imposed on Burma for quite some time.”
Before the arrival of Suu kyi, Obama notified the Congress that he was reinstating preferential tariffs, known as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for Myanmar, which provides duty-free treatment for goods from poor and developing countries.
Myanmar was removed from GSP benefits in 1989 after the country’s ruling military junta brutally crushed the pro-democracy uprisings. As per the U.S official, Myanmar will be back in the program on 13th of November this year.
“We think that the time has now come to remove all the sanctions that hurt us economically,” Aung San Suu Kyi told reporters, praising the support by US Congress for her country by backing the sanctions in the past to put pressure for democratic reforms. She further added that the Burmese parliament in the next few weeks would bring in new investment law. This along with lifting of sanctions, Burma would be a very attractive destination for people from all over the world. We think, the country is in a position to take off,” she said.
Earlier this year, The United States had eased some sanctions against Myanmar to support the ongoing political reform, which came after Suu kyi’s party registered a massive victory in the election last year. It (United Stated) maintained most of its economic restrictions to penalize those it views as threat to the progress of democratically elected government.
Reinstating those benefits, combined with the lifting of sanctions, “will give the United States, our businesses, our non-profit institutions greater incentive to invest and participate in what we hope will be an increasingly democratic and prosperous partner for us in the region,” Obama said.
Amidst the lifting of sanctions and the economic developments for Myanmar, the leader Suu Kyi has been continuously criticized by human rights groups for failing to protect the rights of Rohingya Muslims in the country. A group of 46 non-governmental organizations circulated a letter they wrote to Obama expressing concern about easing sanctions on Myanmar while human rights abuses continues in the country by the military against the Rohingya Muslims.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organizations in the US, released a statement calling on Obama to maintain all the sanctions on Myanmar until the citizenship rights of Rohingya Muslims are respected.
The Council said, “As a result of state sponsored and communal anti-Rohingya violence, displaced Muslims have been forced by the government and mobs into ‘refugee’ and ‘resettlement’ camps that they are not free to leave.”