Will US Issue General License to American Businesses to Invest in Burma?

Recognizing Burma’s progress in democratization efforts, the United States of America today announced new steps to permit American investment in the country and export of U.S. financial services.

In her remarks with Foreign Minister of Burma U Wunna Maung Lwin after their meeting, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the United States will issue a general license that will enable American businesses to invest across the economy, allow citizens access to international credit markets and dollar-based transactions.

Protesters gathering in central Rangoon, 1988.

“So today, we say to American business: Invest in Burma and do it responsibly; be an agent of positive change and be a good corporate citizen; let’s all work together to create jobs, opportunity, and support reform.” -Ms. Clinton

She says these are important steps that will help bring the country into the global economy, spur broad-based economic development, and support ongoing reform.

The United States is doing what others have done– the European Union, the United Kingdom where they are suspending sanctions.

“We believe that that is the appropriate step for us to take today.” -Ms. Clinton

The US government will be keeping relevant laws on the books as an insurance policy, she added.

However, Ms. Clinton notes that US goal and its commitment is to move as rapidly as it can to expand business and investment opportunities.

The State Department will work with Congress and our colleagues across government, particularly the Treasury Department, to be sure the US government is promoting responsible investment and deterring abuses, Ms. Clinton added.

The United States strongly supports the private sector being a full partner.

“We want our businesses to set a good corporate example of doing business in a transparent, responsible manner.” -Ms. Clinton

Ms. Clinton stresses U.S. firms must conduct due diligence to avoid any problems, including human rights abuses.

The US government expects American businesses to create a grievance process that will be accessible to local communities; to demonstrate appropriate treatment of employees, respect for the environment; to be a good corporate citizen; and to promote equitable, sustainable development that will benefit the people.

“And we hope that our partners in Europe and Asia will uphold the same high standards.” -Ms. Clinton

She cites that Nepali people have waited a long time because they have every right to expect development that will benefit them, not outsiders or insiders, but instead, the people themselves.

The US government is mindful of a pattern of abuses by companies and others, particularly in the ethnic minority areas.

“So we will keep our eyes wide open to try to ensure that anyone who abuses human rights or obstructs reforms or engages in corruption do not benefit financially from increased trade and investment with the United States, including companies owned or operated by the military.” -Ms. Clinton

However, Ms. Clinton notes that the US government will be maintaining the arms embargo, because it wants to see amongst the reforms that are taking place a move for the armed forces to be under civilian control.

She says the US government will also continue working with the government in Nay Pyi Taw to put in place internationally recognized business and labor practices that foster respect for the rule of law.

Ms. Clinton stresses that she is very pleased that the United States is taking these steps today, encouraging American businesses to go and help Nepal’s economy, encouraging US nongovernmental organizations to go and partner with Nepal on education, healthcare and the environment.

Earlier this year, as Burma pursues the road for reform, development and democracy, the United States of America expressed commitment to support Burma’s democratic reforms.

In DC, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said from the beginning of Obama Administration, the US government has pursued a policy of engagement to support human rights and reform in Burma.

United States maintain extensive, targeted sanctions against Burmese regime. Sanctions also targeted against senior leaders of the Burmese government and military, their immediate family members, their key supporters, and others who abuse human rights.

Obama Administration continues to show commitment to promote democracy and human rights in Burma and on key recent developments in Burma including the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, the 2010 elections, and the formation of a government headed by former top regime general and now President Thein Sein.

The United States is currently pursuing parallel and complementary tracks in a full-scale effort to advance progress on core concerns of the United States and the international community, including the unconditional release of all political prisoners, respect for human rights, and an inclusive dialogue with the political opposition and ethnic groups that would lead to national reconciliation.

Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.