Sunday, 25 August 2019

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US, Myanmar strengthen trade ties


During the week of President Thein Sein's landmark Washington visit and in the wake of relaxed economic sanctions, at least two US government agencies have signed agreements to strengthen bilateral trade ties with Myanmar.

Acting US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis shakes hands with Myanmar's Deputy Commerce Minister Dr. Pwint San to seal a new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between the two nations. Photo: U.S. Trade Representative via Facebook
Acting US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis shakes hands with Myanmar's Deputy Commerce Minister Dr. Pwint San to seal a new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between the two nations. Photo: U.S. Trade Representative via Facebook
On Tuesday, the US Trade Council announced that the new Myanmar US Trade Council had established offices in Washington, New York and Yangon to promote US-Myanmar trade.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) was signed to encourage economic dialogue by the Acting US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis and Myanmar's Deputy Commerce Minister Dr. Pwint San.

“The immediate tasks at hand for the Council are to remove the remaining US economic sanctions on Myanmar, and to extend duty-free treatment in the United States for the imports of Myanmar under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP),” said Bart S. Fisher, Chairman of the Council and Chairman of Omni Advisors LLC, a Washington DC and New York-based trade and finance advisory firm in a statement on Tuesday.

“We believe that open trade and open markets will promote greater reforms and the transition towards a more democratic process in Myanmar,” he said.

Ambassador Marantis said that, “Economic reforms and trade are mutually supportive. Stronger institutions, transparency, and rule of law create stronger foundations for commercial transactions, trade and investment.”

The moves come as US Senator Mitch McConnell, a former staunch supporter of sanctions on Myanmar, expressed a turnaround in his views following Thein Sein's visit, paving the way for the US' remaining sanctions to be lifted.

“I believe renewing sanctions would be a slap in the face to Burmese [Myanmar] reformers and embolden those within Burma who want to slow or reverse reform,” he said.

Bilateral trade between the two countries remains small, but is increasing. There was a total of US$90 million of trade during the first three months of this year.

Related articles:
  1. Thein Sein visit prompts US to end sanctions
  2. Obama lauds Thein Sein’s leadership
 

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