By Peter Aung
The US Senate’s Finance Committee on Wednesday voted to maintain a ban on Burmese imports for three additional years.
“By reauthorizing the import sanctions for three years, we maintain pressure on the Burmese government to undertake reforms,” said US Senate Finance Committee’s Chairman Max Baucus.
The decision came as the US’s 2003 Burma Freedom and Democracy Act was due to expire at the end of this month. The extension requires approval from the Senate and House of Representatives as well as a signature from the president, who last week eased investment sanctions on Burma.
Shan Nationalities Democratic Party’s parliamentary representative Nan Wah Nu earlier in the week submitted a proposal urging ‘whoever can get the sanctions lifted as quickly as possible’ to work with the house.
The parliamentarian told DVB yesterday the extension of the sanctions would impede the country’s reform process.
“A reform process must go step by step. I would like – not just the United States of America – but also other nations to provide positive help,” said said Nan Wah Nu. “I think it is necessary for everyone to cooperate to bring a democratic system in the country,”
US senator Mitch McConnell, who sponsored the Burma Freedom and Democracy Act, was cited on the US Campaign for Burma’s website as saying: “The Burmese government still has not met all the necessary conditions to justify a complete repeal of all existing sanctions. Despite the unmistakable progress made by the Burmese government, now is not the time to end our ability either to encourage further governmental reform or to revisit sanctions if necessary. As Suu Kyi herself has cautioned, the situation in Burma is ‘not irreversible.’ Serious challenges need to be addressed.”
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Prior to the Senate’s voting on the bill, Mitch McConnell called Suu Kyi to discuss the sanctions.