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EU moves to reinstate Myanmar’s preferential trade status


eu-logoThe EU should reinstate Myanmar's duty and quota free access to the EU market, said the European Parliament's International Trade Committee on Thursday.

In a statement on its website, the European Parliament (EP) said the recommendation reflects the European Commission's proposal to support Myanmar in its reforms, in particular its efforts to eradicate forced labor.

The reinstatement of trade preferences, backed by the Trade Committee by 28 votes to 2, with no abstentions, but yet to be adopted by the full House and approved by member states, will give Myanmar duty and quota free access to the EU market for all its exports except arms and ammunition. This could help raise Myanmar's exports by 30 percent, estimates the European Commission.

“Myanmar is eligible for free market access under the EU's Generalized System for Preferences (GSP) for least-developed countries, but since 1997 the EU has been withholding these benefits because of reports of the ‘routine and widespread practice of forced labor’. The proposal to reinstate preferences follows reports that the use of forced labor in Myanmar has ceased to be ‘serious and systematic’, the statement said.

But while trade MEPs share the Commission's view that the legal requirements are met for the GSP preferences to be reinstated, the EP said that its rapporteur, David Martin, had indicated that forced labor is still a concern in some Myanmar states, particularly in areas where the military is active.

“Progress in Burma remains fragile and it is important that the proposed measures will contribute to a sustainable peace and a positive development,” Martin stressed ahead of the vote.

“It is vital that European businesses apply strict corporate social responsibility measures to their operations in Burma and that there is a high level of transparency and reporting, in order to encourage best practice amongst investors moving into Burma,” he said.

The EP said the full House will vote on the reinstatement of trade preferences for Myanmar in May. Formal approval by the Council will then be required. After that the regulation will enter into force retroactively, as from July 2012 when the ILO lifted restrictions on cooperation with Myanmar.

Related articles:
  1. More reform needed in Myanmar, says EU
  2. Thein Sein calls for lifting of remaining EU sanctions
  3. Myanmar timber to be exported to EU soon, say exporters
Last Updated ( Friday, 22 March 2013 16:49 )  

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