Asia

Burma Failing Its Obligations To Curb Drug Trafficking

Southeast Asian nation may face sanctions for its non-compliance.

Soldiers and civilians use sticks to cut the opium poppies in a jungle field in Shan State, northeast of Burma (File)
Soldiers and civilians use sticks to cut the opium poppies in a jungle field in Shan State, northeast of Burma (File)

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In its on-going effort to combat illicit drugs, every year the United States prepares a list identifying nations playing a role in the international drug trade that significantly affect our nation. Countries found to have failed to live up to international counter-narcotics agreements or other anti-drug programs can face cuts in American aid, though the President has the authority to waive penalties to allow continued cooperation in these efforts.

Twenty-two nations are identified in the latest list of major drug-producing and transit countries. Ranging from Laos to Afghanistan to Haiti and Colombia, the countries may be listed because of a combination of geographic, commercial and economic factors that allow illicit drugs to be produced or shipped through them, despite their government's concerted drug enforcement efforts.

Burma is one of three nations, however, that have demonstrably failed to live up to their international counter-narcotics agreements or cooperate with the U.S. in its fight against illicit drug trafficking. Accordingly, the Southeast Asian nation may face sanctions for its non-compliance.

In addition to the country’s illegal opium cultivation problem, Burma is the largest source of methamphetamine pills in Asia. Burma’s illicit methamphetamine exported to Thailand has a devastating impact on drug users, and this substance is having a growing negative impact on China and the countries of Southeast Asia. Burma itself suffers from one of the most serious problems of illegal drug use in Asia.  

The United States has noted steps the Burmese government has taken to curb the narcotics trade – opium production has declined in parts of the country and law enforcement has seized some major drug caches – and it would be in the best interests of both our nations for closer cooperation in fighting the problem.

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