09/15/2016, 14.42
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Obama ready to lift sanctions from Myanmar

Yesterday the US president held talks with Aung San Suu Kyi in the Oval Office. He praised Myanmar’s “remarkable social and political transformation”. He also called for its reinstatement to the generalised system of preferences (GSP). Republican senator is “appalled by her [Suu Kyi’s] dismissive reaction to concerns I raised this morning about the problem of human trafficking”.

Washington (AsiaNews) – US President Barack Obama announced that the United States is ready to lift economic sanctions imposed in previous years on Myanmar over its human rights violations.

Obama met yesterday with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi in the Oval Office. After a private meeting, the two spoke to reporters.

Citing that country’s “remarkable social and political transformation,” the US leader noted that "The United States is now prepared to lift sanctions that we have imposed on Burma for quite some time.” Asked by a reporter about the timing for lifting sanctions Obama replied, "Soon."

Earlier, the president sent a letter to Congress saying the administration is moving to restore trade benefits to Myanmar.

Aung San Suu Kyi thanked Obama for being the first president to visit Myanmar, then stressed the importance of lifting sanctions, saying “unity also needs prosperity, because people, when they have to fight over limited resources, forget that standing together is important.”

The US black list includes about a hundred individuals and organisations in Myanmar, mostly connected to the former military junta, who cannot do business with the United States and nations connected with the military.

Lifting sanctions will allow Myanmar to benefit from the generalised system of preferences (GSP), a status that provides tax exemptions to countries if they respect international conventions and rules.

However, Obama's decision left human rights groups wondering because the decision to lift sanctions comes before Myanmar addressed the situation of its marginalised ethnic groups, most notably the Rohingya.

Also, in a statement, Republican Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, said, “While we certainly appreciate the work Aung San Suu Kyi has done to ensure a democratic transition in Burma, I am somewhat appalled by her dismissive reaction to concerns I raised this morning about the problem of human trafficking in her country.”

Global Witness, an anti-natural resource exploitation NGO, criticised Obama's move as “a major setback for efforts to clean up Myanmar's notoriously corrupt and abusive business environment.”

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