THE United States is temporarily easing trade restrictions on Myanmar by allowing all shipments to pass through its seaports and airports for six months.
The policy shift applies even to gateways controlled by entities on the US sanctions blacklist, US officials said.
The US started lifting sanctions against the country after a civilian government was formed in 2011, but officials acknowledged that remaining US sanctions against those with ties to Myanmar's military have halted "many, many dozens" of shipments, Reuters reported.
Major US banks, such as Citigroup, Bank of America and PNC Financial have been shying away from backing Myanmar trade after discovering that the Asia World port - one of the country's most important shipping terminals - is controlled by a businessman on America's sanctions blacklist.
Exporters use trade finance from banks to ensure they get paid after shipments arrive, and the banks' withdrawal has led to a sharp decline in US shipments into Myanmar.
"It was beginning to escalate," said a senior US official. "Not only US banks but also third country exporters and third country financial institutions were beginning to hold up trade going in and out of Burma."
A second senior administration official said the move would lend a boost to Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which won a landslide victory last month in Myanmar's first nationwide free elections in 25 years.
The temporary lifting of the trade restrictions was "potentially the single most important thing that we can do on the economic front immediately to give the NLD some breathing space over the next several months as it forms its government," the official said.
Source : HKSG.