US Likely to Retain Myanmar Sanctions

US Likely to Retain Myanmar Sanctions
US Likely to Retain Myanmar Sanctions

Despite a transition to democracy in Myanmar, the US plans to renew sanctions when they expire next week and hopes the Southeast Asian country will not backtrack on reforms.

The administration of US President Barack Obama will renew a bulk of these sanctions next week and a formal announcement will be made when US Secretary of State John Kerry visits the country on May 22, Reuters quoted US officials and congressional aides as saying on Saturday, according to Deutsche Welle.

The US has already significantly eased trade and financial sanctions on Myanmar since the country’s former military rulers embarked on a process of reforms in 2011.

Washington has issued general licenses to companies and investors exempting them from sanctions. In December, some travel restrictions were also lifted, allowing all shipments to go through the country’s ports and airports for six months.

The victory of the pro-democracy National League for Democracy in last year’s landmark elections had led many to believe that Washington would lift most of the sanctions, but it appears that President Obama wants to keep pressure on the country so that it does not backslide on reforms.

However, the US plans to make some changes to the existing sanctions, giving more breathing room for the private sector while maintaining pressure on the military, which continues to hold significant political power.

The US is also concerned about human rights violations in Myanmar, especially against ethnic and religious minorities.