YANGON (AA) - The United States revealed Tuesday that seven Myanmar state-owned enterprises and three state-owned banks were removed from a sanctions list after Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s party took power.
The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a statement that the easing of some sanctions and extension of others was intended to “incentivize further democratic reforms and maintain pressure on targeted individuals and entities and the military, certain sanctions remain in place”.
“These removals support U.S. foreign policy goals and acknowledge the changing circumstances in Burma,” it underlined. “The entities being removed are organized under civilian line ministries or no longer exist.”
Other companies, however, were added to the list.
They included six companies owned 50 percent or more by Steven Law, a tycoon and son of notorious drug lord Lo Hsing Han, or Asia World Co. Ltd., Myanmar’s largest conglomerate in which Law serves as managing director.
“The remaining sanctions on Burmese individuals and entities are primarily intended to target those who obstruct political reform in Burma, commit human rights abuses in Burma, or propagate military trade with North Korea,” said the statement.
“More broadly, these actions demonstrate the Administration’s support for continued political reforms and broad-based economic growth in Burma, while also maintaining sanctions pressure where needed, and providing the private sector with further clarity to effectively engage in Burma.”
The Myanmar Times newspaper cited unnamed U.S. officials in Washington earlier this week as having said that the sanction moves had been decided in accordance with recommendations from Suu Kyi, now Myanmar’s state counselor and foreign minister.
It reported Tuesday that diplomats based in commercial capital Yangon said the government sought to “maintain leverage” against Myanmar's armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, and its business associates.
From 1962 to 2011, Myanmar was ruled by an oppressive military junta in which generals suppressed almost all dissent and stood accused of gross human rights abuses, prompting international condemnation and sanctions.
The years of dictatorship, however, were terminated by a 2010 general election widely regarded as rigged.
Power was transferred to a new semi-civilian government led by the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party and reformist President Thein Sein in 2011, a process that lifted Myanmar out of global isolation, helped end most sanctions and spurred rapid economic growth.