Myanmar: Cameron’s visit may lead to suspension of EU sanctions; Australia and US will lift some sanctions

Updated On: Apr 17, 2012

British Prime Minister David Cameron has voiced his support on the suspension of EU sanctions on Myanmar, the review of which will take place later this month. Australia, whereas, announced yesterday that it will lift some sanctions on Myanmar.

UPDATE: The US said today that it will allow financial transactions that support humanitarian, religious and other non profit activity in the country. This will include projects and programs in areas such as good governance, health, education and sport. By doing so, it hopes to increase cooperation between the Burmese and American people. 

EU will consider suspension of sanctions

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Myanmar late last week ended on a positive note, with Mr. Cameron saying that he will support the suspension of EU sanctions on Myanmar. His visit is touted as the first by a major Western leader to the once isolated state in decades.

Mr. Cameron met with President Thein Sein and pro-democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Ms. Suu Kyi, who was recently elected to public office, cited her support for Mr. Cameron’s decision. She agreed that suspending instead of rescinding the sanctions completely would “make it clear to those who are against reform that should they try to obstruct the way of the reformers, then sanctions could come back”. Western diplomats have often consulted Ms. Suu Kyi prior to making any decisions regarding Myanmar. The sanctions will not include an arms embargo because of on-going conflicts between the military and ethnic rebel groups.

At a press conference after the meeting with Ms. Suu Kyi, Mr. Cameron acknowledged that “there is still much, much more needed to be done…the right thing for the world to do is to encourage the change and believe in the possibility of peaceful progress towards democracy”.

Should the EU decide the suspend sanctions, analysts believe that the US will be pressured to do the same due to economic reasons. The suspension of sanctions will enable a flood of investment into the country, with businesses expected to bloom and tourism expected to rise. Myanmar’s huge reserves of oil, gas and precious stones would also…

The EU will begin discussions on the issue of sanctions on April 23.

Report: British prime minister, in Myanmar, wants sanctions suspended but not lifted [New York Times, 13 April 2012]

Report: British PM calls for suspending Myanmar sanctions [Associated Press, 13 April 2012]

Australia will ease sanctions

Australia announced yesterday that it would ease sanctions on Myanmar and encourage trade with the country. The decision came following a series of reforms overseen by President Thein Sein’s government, the latest of which was what the West deemed to be a ‘free and fair’ election.

Australian foreign minister Bob Carr stated that the move was made so as to “recognize the far-reaching political, economic and social reforms” that have taken place in recent times. These include the release of hundreds of political prisoners, the pursuit of ceasefire agreements with ethnic rebel groups and improved laws on media freedom, among others.

Financial sanctions and travel restrictions against Mr. Thein Sein and 200 other people will be lifted. However, this will not apply to 130 others who include senior members of the military and those who have committed serious human rights abuses. Like the EU, Australia will not be lifting the arms embargo.

Report: Australia to lift some Myanmar sanctions [AFP, 16 April 2012]

Report: Citing reforms, Australia softens sanctions on Myanmar [CNN, 16 April 2012]

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