United States President Barack Obama announced an end to many of the decades-long sanctions on Myanmar after his meeting with the country's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on her first official visit to Washington since her party came to power, BBC reported. The US had imposed sanctions on Myanmar in 1989 for human rights violations by the military during pro-democracy protests.
Obama said, "It is the right thing to do in order to ensure the people of Burma [now Myanmar] see the rewards from a new way of doing business and a new government."
With Myanmar transitioning from military to democratic rule, Obama on Wednesday said it should now have access to the benefits of favourable trade. According to a BBC report, Obama informed the Congress about the lifting of sanctions and said Myanmar would be added to the Generalised System of Preferences, which protects selected countries from high taxes.
US officials told Reuters that the country will be back on the list on November 13. Some sanctions, including "a black list of at least 100 companies and individuals" with connections to the former military junta and the jade and ruby trade will continue. Obama expressed hope that the two countries would develop the reestablished bilateral relations.As the military still holds key government features, including border monitoring and the armed forces, Suu Kyi did not push for the lifting of sanctions on military leaders. After the meeting, Suu Kyi said, "We have a constitution that is not very democratic, because it gives the military a special place in politics."
Critics, however, slammed the lifting of sanctions as they say it will perpetuate military violations, Reuters reported. Suu Kyi has also been criticised for not doing enough to resolve the Rohingya issue, where 125,000 people have been housed in temporary camps since violence in 2012. The country does not acknowledge the rights of the Rohingya as an official ethnic group, who are treated as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.