EU Set to Scrap Trade Sanctions: Diplomat

By The Irrawaddy 19 April 2012

The European Union has reportedly reached an agreement to suspend trade sanctions against Burma with only the arms embargo still in place.

An unidentified diplomat was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying that the suspension would initially be in place for a single year in order to monitor the military-dominated nation’s commitment to reform.

The move must be approved by a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday, but the insider said that there is prior agreement within the group.

Western powers have already started easing sanctions on Burma―most notably the United States and Australia―after pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s main opposition National League for Democracy party won a landmark victory in the April 1 by-elections.

Since then many governments have signaled a new policy of re-engagement with Naypyidaw, with UK Prime Minister David Cameron also making positive noises during a landmark visit to Burma, also known as Myanmar, at the weekend.

Burma’s nominally civilian government, led by President Thein Sein, has undergone a remarkable period of reform involving the freeing of hundreds of political prisoners, peace talks with ethnic rebels and the relaxation of strict censorship laws.

However, concerns remain over the widely-condemned 2008 Constitution which guarantees 25 percent of legislative seats for the military, as well as continued fighting and related human rights abuses in Kachin State and residual powers held by senior armed forces personnel.