The United States on Monday suspended its trade deal with Myanmar and criticised the military for its violent crackdown on anti-coup protests in the country.
“USTR [the United States Trade Representative] will suspend all US trade engagement with Burma under the 2013 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement,” the agency’s Ambassador Katherine Tai said in a tweet. “We support the people of Burma’s efforts to restore a democratically-elected government, which has been the foundation of Burma’s economic growth and reform.”
Tai added that the actions of Myanmar’s military were a “direct assault” on the country’s transition to democracy and the people’s efforts to achieve peace and prosperity.
The official added that the international community was shocked by the killing of peaceful protestors, students, children and medics in Myanmar.
The suspension of the trade deal removes Myanmar from the Generalised System of Preferences, under which certain products can enter the US duty-free if beneficiary developing countries meet the eligibility criteria.
More than 500 people have been killed in the violence in Myanmar, AFP reported on Monday, citing local monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
On Saturday, security forces in Myanmar killed more than 100 people, including children, in one of the most violent days of anti-coup protests in the country.
On February 1, the military in Myanmar took control of the country and detained State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures from the ruling National League for Democracy.
This happened after Suu Kyi victory’s in the national elections in November, with the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party faring poorly in its key strongholds. The military levelled accusations of fraud and refused to accept election results.
Protests against the coup broke out across the Myanmar. The military cracked down on the intensifying agitation with firing, internet cuts and curfews.
The violence in Myanmar drew heavy criticism from the international community. Alice Wairimu Nderitu, United Nations’ special adviser on the prevention of genocide and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on the army to immediately stop the killings.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was “absolutely unacceptable to see violence against people at such high levels, so many people killed”, AFP reported. “We need more unity... (and) more commitment from the international community to put pressure in order to make sure that the situation is reversed,” added.