In the latest in a series of reciprocal steps aimed at encouraging the government of Burma on the path toward democracy, the United States is moving to make it easier for the Southeast Asian nation to secure help from the World Bank and other international financial institutions to identify and prioritize pressing needs for reducing poverty and promoting economic development.
We are encouraged by a number of recent government reforms there, such as releasing substantial numbers of political prisoners, easing restrictions on media, creating greater space for civil society and passing electoral reforms that allow opposition parties to contest seats in upcoming parliamentary elections.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on February 6 signed a partial waiver of restrictions on Burma stemming from U.S. laws against human trafficking. The waiver enables the United States to support requests that Burmese leaders might make for assessment missions and limited technical assistance from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and International Monetary Fund. Assessments by these organizations will provide important information to help gain greater understanding of Burma’s economic situation, particularly identifying any obstacles to alleviating poverty and gaps in the country’s development capacity.
Economic, political and trade sanctions have been in place against Burma for decades because of human rights abuses. Secretary Clinton agreed to support assessments by international financial institutions during her visit to Burma late last year, in response to a number of encouraging reforms that are under way there. The United States remains committed to supporting and partnering with Burma toward progress along a path to democracy and national reconciliation.