WASHINGTON — President Obama signed an executive order Friday lifting the ban on imports of jadeite and ruby stones and jewelry from Myanmar, as the U.S. further opened its trade ties with the country.
Obama also lifted other sanctions and terminated the national emergency order against Myanmar, formerly known as and often referred to as Burma.
The steps taken by the administration on Friday followed an announcement made by Obama during the visit of Aung San Suu Kyi, state counsellor for Myanmar and its de facto leader, to the White House last month.
Obama cited progress in Myanmar’s move to a democracy from a former military junta.
“I have determined that the situation that gave rise to the national emergency with respect to Burma has been significantly altered by Burma’s substantial advances to promote democracy, including historic elections in November 2015 that resulted in the former opposition party, the National League for Democracy, winning a majority of seats in the national parliament and the formation of a democratically elected, civilian-led government; the release of many political prisoners, and greater enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom of association and peaceful assembly,” Obama said in a letter to the House and Senate leaders.
The easing of sanctions and restoration of some trade benefits follows moves the Obama administration has been making for several years.
“Burma has made significant strides in recent years, including choosing a civilian-led, democratically elected government,” said Adam J. Szubin, acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. “Lifting economic and financial sanctions will further support trade and economic growth, and Treasury will continue to work with Burma to implement a robust anti-money laundering regime that will help to ensure the security of its financial system.”
Last month, the U.S. said it was reinstating benefits for Myanmar under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences. The GSP program provides duty-free benefits for more than 5,000 types of products from 122 designated countries and territories. While the entire GSP program does not cover most apparel and textile imports to the U.S., it does cover accessories, such as jewelry.
In addition, the administration recently moved to expand duty-free benefits for imported travel goods under GSP to a limited group of the poorest countries in the world. Industry officials said they expect Myanmar to become eligible for those benefits, as well.
Myanmar’s benefits under GSP will be reinstated effective on Nov. 13 after a 60-day Congressional-notification period.