Obama Says U.S. Is Prepared To Lift Sanctions Against Myanmar

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In 1997, the USA government prohibited new investment in Myanmar by US persons or entities.

These changes are designed to create incentives for US businesses and nonprofits to invest in the country, Obama said.

President Barack Obama's administration will seek to accept 110,000 refugees from around the world in fiscal 2017, officials announced Wednesday.

Pedestrian walks past while a man buy cigarette at a roadside shop Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016, in Yangon, Myanmar.

The US president's deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes has said the Obama administration is considering steps that can be taken to encourage US investment in Myanmar.

"The devil is in the details - no one is arguing that sanctions should be in place forever", Juman Kubba, a senior campaigner for watchdog group Global Witness, told Foreign Policy. "Her sense is that she should use her huge political mandate to push the peace process forward, transcending some of the issues that bogged it down before - and this fits with the military's approach".

Suu Kyi enjoys deep respect among USA lawmakers who were instrumental in the imposition of sanctions in the first place and they will likely follow her lead on whether they should be lifted. "The question is, how do we balance the need to continue to demonstrate that this transition is not complete with the fact that we don't want to shut ourselves and responsible investment out of the country?"

But unity also means prosperity, because people, when they have to fight over limited resources forget that standing together is important.

In November, Myanmar will be back on the list of poor and developing countries benefiting from GSP, which grants preferential tariff treatment to certain products and significant tariff reductions.

The news came as Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi reached Washington on her first official visit. The military still retains power in the government, in part through a constitution that effectively bars Suu Kyi from the presidency. "We think, the country is in a position to take off", she said.

"We are very interested in successful businesses" entering Myanmar, Suu Kyi said after the White House meeting.

The U.S. has eased economic sanctions on the country also known as Burma since political reforms began five years ago but it still restricts dealings with military-owned companies and dozens of officials and associates of the former ruling junta.

However, human rights groups say there are compelling reasons for retaining sanctions.

Mr Robertson acknowledged the release of political prisoners, but cited the continued arrests of civil society activists, as well as the government's failure to repeal laws limiting free speech and the rights of religious minorities.

Nor does the move does not normalize relations with Myanmar's military. The US-ASEAN Business Council estimates 70% of Myanmar's economy is still considered off-limits to American companies.

Suu Kyi said that Myanmar had reached a point that it had not expected to reach, but acknowledged, "There's so much that has to be done in our country".

Suu Kyi said she was grateful to the United States for enacting sanctions that pressured Myanmar to restore human rights, but added that the time had come for the restrictions to be lifted. Relations have changed from a measure-to-measure approach (in which specific reforms were met with concessions from the US) to a multi-pronged strategy through which conditionality becomes more hard.