Thursday, April 19, 2012

The EU Suspends Burma Sanctions for a Year

Sources indicated that the EU will suspend its Burma sanctions for period of one year, with the exception of the arms embargo.  The concept of a temporary lifting of sanctions was discussed during British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Myanmar earlier this month.

The EU Burma sanctions include the following:
  • a ban on the sale or transfer of arms and weapons expertise to Myanmar;
  • visa restrictions on members of the Myanmar regime;
  • a ban on visas for certain Myanmar nationals connected with the Myanmar regime;
  • a freeze on officials’ overseas assets.
  • a ban on the purchase, import or transport of
    (a) round logs, timber and timber products;
    (b) gold, tin, iron, copper, tungsten, silver, coal, lead, manganese, nickel and zinc;
    (c) precious and semi-precious stones, including diamonds, rubies, sapphires, jade and emeralds.
  • a ban on the export of equipment and technology for enterprises involved in the above industries;
  • a ban on loans, investment or joint ventures in the above industries;
  • a ban on non-humanitarian aid or development  programs, other than human rights/civil society support, health and education or environmental programs.
The revised Burma sanctions will take effect after a formal meeting of EU foreign ministers on April 23.

The EU sanctions legislation gives its administering authorities great flexibility, such that a temporary suspension is possible. This contrasts with the US Burma sanctions legislation, which is complex and far less flexible. In fact, the EU approach may be  more optimal, as sanctions can be reimposed immediately should difficulties remain, and can be lifted permanently with sufficient progress in the country.

Myanmar is also suspended from the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences trade program.  This suspension is expected to be lifted in June, when a report on forced labor in Myanmar is due.