Legislation banning all imports from Myanmar has been introduced in Congress, with backing from Republicans and Democrats outraged by the country’s military dictatorship’s recent crackdown against the democratically elected opposition. Since the military seized power in 1990, a growing number of U.S. retailers and manufacturers have voluntarily halted business with Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, due to allegations that citizens have been used as slave laborers on civil engineering projects. Apparel is the country’s main export to the U.S. — the Asian country shipped $309.8 million worth of fabrics and garments to the U.S. last year. Myanmar only has six categories under quota by the U.S., which were imposed prior to the creation of the World Trade Organization. The country became a member of the WTO in 1995 but the six unilateral quotas stayed in place and will remain until the end of 2004, when all global quotas on apparel and textiles will be lifted.

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