Obama sets timetable to lift Myanmar sanctions

U.S. senator wants Congress consulted on Myanmar sanctions documents

- US President Barack Obama has rewarded Myanmar for its progress towards democracy by promising to lift all remaining sanctions against the Southeast Asian country, as he welcomed de facto leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to the White House.

The two leaders said in a joint statement that the US will also give preferential trade status to Myanmar "in light of progress on a number of fronts, including strengthening protections for internationally recognized worker rights". Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy swept to power in the nation's elections last fall, recently held an unprecedented summit of ethnic leaders, the first step in a process aimed at bringing peace to the country.

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday he was prepared to lift sanctions on Myanmar after the country's democratic transformation and re-entry into the United States' good graces.

The White House also said in a statement that USA will restore Myanmar to GSP or Generalised System of Preferences, which provides duty-free treatment of goods from poor or developing countries.

During the meeting, Obama also announced his intention to take action to lift Executive Order-based economic and financial sanctions on Myanmar. Myanmar will be back in the program on November 13, US officials said.

Obama cited Myanmar's "remarkable social and political transformation" as he signaled Wednesday the USA readiness to lift sanctions.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, greets supporters outside the Blair House prior to meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry on September 14 in Washington, DC.

"She is in a dilemma", he said. Ryan's aides said he had a scheduling conflict.

Some members of Congress have expressed concerns about Myanmar's human rights record. They have about 25 per cent of the legislative seats. Myanmar economists and businessmen welcome President Barack Obama's announcement that the USA will lift. She would be eligible if changes are made to the constitution, which would require the support of a big chunk of the military's voting bloc in the parliament and according to leaders, it is not likely to happen.

U.S. officials said Myanmar would be back in the program by mid-November, however the ban on military assistance and visas for military leaders would remain.

Centred on Hpakant in Kachin State, Global Witness estimated Myanmar's jade trade to be worth $31 billion in off-the-books revenue for 2014, a figure equivalent to half of Myanmar's official GDP.

And I would like to take this opportunity to thank not just the people of the United States and the United States Congress and all of the various non-governmental organizations and individuals that have helped us, but also to President Obama personally for coming out to our country as the first American President ever to have done so and to recognize the potential of our people, especially our young people.

Several megaprojects that have come under fire for human rights abuses, including the Myitsone Dam in Kachin State and the Letpadaung copper mine in Sagaing Region, are backed in part by firms featured on the current SDN list.

"Lifting restrictions on doing business with Burma's military and its corporate enterprises, as well as the friends and cronies who been enriched by their decades of rule, is not the right thing to do".

"It benefits largely them, and few others, and certainly not the people of Burma in general".

Various governments and rights groups in the West, as well as the United Nations, have criticised Ms Suu Kyi's administration for doing too little to alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya, a group of about one million Muslims living in western Myanmar, majority stateless.

Under the country's citizenship law, the Rohingya are not recognized as one of the country's 135 official ethnic groups and are stateless. They are seen as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh and deeply disliked by many in Myanmar, particularly Rakhine Buddhists. She urged Americans to come to the country and "to make profits".

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