US President Barack Obama has announced his intent to restore trade benefits to Myanmar, saying Washington is ready to lift sanctions on the Asian country.
In a letter to Congress, Obama said he intended to reinstate preferential treatment for Myanmar under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme, a preferential tariff system, Xinhua reported.
The move came as Obama hosted Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi at the White House on Wednesday. The Myanmar leader is visiting the US for the first time since her party won a sweeping victory in the general election last year.
After their bilateral meeting, Obama told reporters the US is ready to lift sanctions on Myanmar.
“The United States is now prepared to lift sanctions that we have imposed on Burma for quite some time,” said Obama, who later added that the move would come “soon”.
“It is the right thing to do in order to ensure that the people of Burma see rewards from a new way of doing business and a new government,” Obama said.
According to a joint statement by the US and Myanmar, the United States will terminate the national emergency with respect to Myanmar and will revoke the executive order-based framework of the Myanmar sanctions program.
The move represents Washington’s recognition of “the progress toward democratic transition that Myanmar has achieved, including through the election of a civilian-led government,” the joint statement said.
Hailing the “remarkable” progress Myanmar has made, Obama said Suu Kyi is in a position to “begin shaping a remarkable social and political transformation and economic transformation” in the country.
“We have reached a point where, as President Obama said, people did not expect us to reach five years ago, although we were quite confident that we’d get there,” Suu Kyi said. “But now we have to go ahead.”
She also acknowledged that “there’s so much that has to be done in our country”, adding that the most important thing is national reconciliation and peace.
In May, the US lifted some of the sanctions on Myanmar to show support for the country’s political reforms and economic growth and to facilitate trade between the two sides.
The move eased restrictions on Myanmar’s financial institutions, allowed certain transactions related to US individuals living in the country, and removed seven state-owned enterprises and three state-owned banks from the US blacklist.