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 country. 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 in order to continue 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 in or shipped through them, despite their government's 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. Despite these shortcomings, Burma will not face sanctions as the United States has decided to issue Burma a waiver to permit support for programs in the national interest of the United States, such as democratization and human rights.
In addition to the country’s illegal opium cultivation problem, Burma is the largest source of methamphetamine, much of which is exported to Thailand. It has a devastating impact on drug users, and this substance is having an increasingly negative impact on China and the countries of Southeast Asia. Burma itself suffers from a high rate of illegal drug use, one of the worst 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. Closer cooperation in fighting this problem would be in the best interests of both nations.