U.S. Suspends Restrictions on Investment and Exports of Financial Services to Burma

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U.S. businesses will soon be able to invest in Burma and provide financial services for the first time since the United States implemented sanctions against the country fifteen years ago. Secretary of State Clinton announced the United States’ “suspension” of the sanctions program during a joint press conference with Burmese Foreign Minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, in Washington on May 17, 2012.

The United States initiated its sanctions program in 1997 in response to the Government of Burma’s large-scale repression of democratic opposition. Current U.S. sanctions against Burma are implemented through the Burmese Sanctions Regulations (“BSR”) (31 C.F.R. Part 537), administered by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Controls (“OFAC”). Initially limited to a prohibition against U.S. persons’ “new investment” in, or facilitation of new investments in Burma, the sanctions were expanded through a series of subsequent Executive Orders and Acts. Today, in addition to these original prohibitions, the BSR include a total restriction on the importation of Burmese products, as well as the exportation or reexportation to Burma of “financial services” from the United States or by U.S. persons, wherever located.

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