Myanmar hit if US extends import ban

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Before the import ban in 2003, garments made up the majority of exports from Myanmar to the US.

Myanmar’s aim to attract investments into labour-intensive manufacturing may suffer a setback if the US renews it much-disputed import ban on all goods from the country, a law which temporarily expired on July 26.

The import ban was in place since 2003, and while the US has eased some sanctions on Myanmar in response to economic and political reforms, the administration seems not to be in favour of lifting the import ban completely.

The extension of the ban is now a matter of discussion between lawmakers and lobbying groups. Republican representatives are said to be proposing that the ban be extended and hope to pass the respective bill in early August.

The International Crisis Group, an independent NGO advocating the progress of less-developed countries, said that the continuation of the import ban threatens to stunt job growth in Myanmar.

The think tank warned that rather than harming the autocratic elite, the ban would mostly affect job-creating manufacturing industries, a focal point of economic development plans proposed by reformist Myanmar president Thein Sein. Trade with the US would create more jobs in a country that currently suffers from a nearly 25 per cent unemployment rate.

In an interview with the Financial Times in early July, Thein Sein pointed to a development model that revolved around the ultilisation of “semi-skilled workers, people who can be trained up in a relatively short period, in sectors such as textiles.”

“We have more than three million migrant workers in nearby countries, and it’s important to try to create jobs for them”, he said.

The US import ban prohibits the import of any products of Myanmar origin, regardless of the country in which they are purchased, and thus includes the importation of major export goods such as jewellery made with jade or rubies mined in Myanmar. Information material, products that have been “substantially transformed” in a third country, and personal effects of US citizens residing in Myanmar are exempted.

Under Secretary of State Robert Hormats told Reuters that the US would consider dropping the ban on imports if the government continued on its path of reform by making further concessionary gestures, such as releasing political prisoners.

Before the import ban was introduced, Myanmar’s garment industry was the largest exporter to the US.

Myanmar imports to the US hit $275.7 million in 2003 and flatlined in the following years.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Before the import ban in 2003, garments made up the majority of exports from Myanmar to the US.

Myanmar’s aim to attract investments into labour-intensive manufacturing may suffer a setback if the US renews it much-disputed import ban on all goods from the country, a law which temporarily expired on July 26.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Before the import ban in 2003, garments made up the majority of exports from Myanmar to the US.

Myanmar’s aim to attract investments into labour-intensive manufacturing may suffer a setback if the US renews it much-disputed import ban on all goods from the country, a law which temporarily expired on July 26.

The import ban was in place since 2003, and while the US has eased some sanctions on Myanmar in response to economic and political reforms, the administration seems not to be in favour of lifting the import ban completely.

The extension of the ban is now a matter of discussion between lawmakers and lobbying groups. Republican representatives are said to be proposing that the ban be extended and hope to pass the respective bill in early August.

The International Crisis Group, an independent NGO advocating the progress of less-developed countries, said that the continuation of the import ban threatens to stunt job growth in Myanmar.

The think tank warned that rather than harming the autocratic elite, the ban would mostly affect job-creating manufacturing industries, a focal point of economic development plans proposed by reformist Myanmar president Thein Sein. Trade with the US would create more jobs in a country that currently suffers from a nearly 25 per cent unemployment rate.

In an interview with the Financial Times in early July, Thein Sein pointed to a development model that revolved around the ultilisation of “semi-skilled workers, people who can be trained up in a relatively short period, in sectors such as textiles.”

“We have more than three million migrant workers in nearby countries, and it’s important to try to create jobs for them”, he said.

The US import ban prohibits the import of any products of Myanmar origin, regardless of the country in which they are purchased, and thus includes the importation of major export goods such as jewellery made with jade or rubies mined in Myanmar. Information material, products that have been “substantially transformed” in a third country, and personal effects of US citizens residing in Myanmar are exempted.

Under Secretary of State Robert Hormats told Reuters that the US would consider dropping the ban on imports if the government continued on its path of reform by making further concessionary gestures, such as releasing political prisoners.

Before the import ban was introduced, Myanmar’s garment industry was the largest exporter to the US.

Myanmar imports to the US hit $275.7 million in 2003 and flatlined in the following years.

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