For the first time, ASEAN has urged Western countries to reconsider their economic sanctions on Myanmar. The ban on trade with companies tied to Myanmar's government, as well as asset freezing and blocks on loans, are estimated to have cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars.
The call for reform comes amidst other similar insistences in the wake of Myanmar's release of Aung San Suu Kyi and theelections in late 2010. ASEAN's foreign ministers have welcomed the polls as "conducive and transparent". Yesterday, Myanmar's main ethnic minority political parties also issued a statement calling for the sanctions to be lifted.
Myanmar ethnics, ASEAN call for sanctions lift [AFP, 16 Jan 2011]