Business

US Firms Lobby for Removal of Myanmar Trade Restrictions 

By Moe Myint 31 July 2017

YANGON — American businesses based in Myanmar are urging their government to remove sections 311 and 312 of the USA Patriot Act which prohibit US banks from trading in Myanmar.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar (AMCHAM) led 13 financial service companies to meet with government officials from Yangon and Naypyitaw as well as US Ambassador to Myanmar Scott Marciel and US embassy staff on July 24-26.

The delegation encouraged the US representatives to help remove the sections in order to create a better understanding among US financial institutions of the local market and opportunities in Myanmar, according to an AMCHAM statement. The group also encouraged US companies to operate in Myanmar.

AMCHAM executive director Judy Benn said the bans “seriously impact US companies’ ability to do business with Myanmar, especially including exports to that country, investment in the country, and participation in the economy on equal footing to other foreign companies.”

Myanmar Citizen Bank chief executive Dr. Thaung Han welcomed the effort to drop legislation that bars US banks from operating in Myanmar. The US government allowing its banks to invest in the country would positive impacts such as national development, and technical support for local banks, he said, adding that it could be a stabilizing force for Myanmar’s banking industry.

“The US has a crucial role in the world’s business community. To be honest, we welcome them. The entire globe is working with the dollar, we cannot avoid that,” said Dr. Thaung Han.

He said private companies would follow US banks to Myanmar. “I wish it to happen as soon as possible,” he added.

During the three-day trip, US government officials and businesspeople held meetings with the economic adviser for State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; the secretary of the Myanmar Investment Commission; the deputy director of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration; the finance minister; and the Governor of the Central Bank and Financial Regulatory Department.

Delegates also met with the Myanmar Insurance Business Regulatory Board and suggested continuing reforms which would give foreign insurance companies access to the domestic insurance market.

“A healthy economy is one in which all companies, both local and foreign, operate in an environment that is free of prohibitive and discriminatory regulations, that encourages diversity and innovation, and allows companies to compete under fair conditions,” read the AMCHAM statement.

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