President Barack Obama’s recent announcement easing U.S. financial and investment sanctions on Burma is “the beginning of a longer and indeed more challenging process,” Under Secretary Robert Hormats recently told the U.S. – ASEAN Business Council. Mr. Hormats, who is Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, led the highest U.S. government economic delegation to visit the country in decades July 14-15, 2012 along with Undersecretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez and other senior U.S. government officials.
"The policies and actions of the United States are carefully calibrated and clearly aimed at supporting the democratic reform and reconciliation efforts here,” he said. “They say to the reformers inside and outside the government: you are on the right path."
The governments, private sectors and civil societies of both countries have key roles to play in furthering reform in Burma. The United States calls on Burma to strengthen rule of law and show clear progress on transparency, particularly in the energy sector and in procurement and tendering processes related to the government-run Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.
The U.S. expects promulgation of laws and regulations in Burma that meet the highest international standards in the areas of competition, intellectual property rights, and arbitration.
Under Secretary Hormats also called for a new investment law in Burma, but cautioned that the government should take time to obtain input from international business and civil society before completing such a law. He also called for continued reform of labor laws, noting that labor rights will help a middle class emerge in the country.
For its part, the United States hopes the participation of American companies in Burma will help support reforms, benefit the people of Burma, and raise standards of environmental protection, human rights, worker rights, and transparency.
“Whether working at home or abroad, U.S. firms engage with local communities and civil society, recognize the importance of broader social and environmental responsibility, and create economic opportunities,” he said.
“The people and government of Burma are coming out of a period of isolation,” said Under Secretary Hormats. “We want to be their partners as they do so.”