The Irrawaddy

US Ambassador Follows Up on State Counselor’s White House Visit

Scot Marciel at a press conference at the US Embassy in Rangoon on Tuesday.

RANGOON — At a press conference on Tuesday, US Ambassador Scot Marciel said 104 individuals and companies would be eliminated from a US treasury blacklist—a list that includes ex-military generals and associates of the former ruling junta.

The ambassador returned to Burma on Monday, following Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to the United States last week, where she met with US President Obama for the first time as the de facto leader of the country’s new democratically-elected civilian government.

Marciel added that of the 104 names to be removed from the sanction list, some might remain on other blacklists in regards to drug trafficking or conducting business with North Korea.

JADE Act restrictions still remain, which focus on stopping anti-democratic activities and preventing former military personnel from profiting in the gems trade.

The ambassador said that maintaining sanctions was “too costly” for the US government and that dropping sanctions was an effort to encourage investment and loosen trade with Burma’s growing economy.

“By removing sanctions and offering GSP [Generalized System of Preferences], we hope to make Myanmar a more attractive place for international investors. We want to encourage American companies to look at opportunities here.”

He recalled the discussion between President Obama and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the White House and noted that the State Counselor was focused on Burma becoming an economic pillar, by creating jobs and increasing nationwide prosperity in support of the country’s democratic transition.

The two leaders discussed the peace process, human rights development, rule of law, the relationship between civilian authority and the military, constitutional reform, the situation in Arakan State, and other challenges still facing Burma during its transition.

The ambassador said that the United States and Burma could partake in many exchange programs—in education, health care and economic development, for example.

The US has already signed an agreement offering a US$10 million credit guarantee program in Burma, intended to promote about 5,000 local businesses in the agriculture, livestock, manufacturing, farming, trade and service industries.