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U.S. Lifts Ban on Certain Imports from Burma

Monday, November 19, 2012
STR Client Advisory

November 19, 2012

U.S. Lifts Ban on Certain Imports from Burma

The U.S. State Department on Nov. 16 waived the ban on the importation of Burmese-origin products into the United States. As a result, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the creation of General License 18 in the Burmese Sanctions Regulations, which authorizes certain imports into the United States from Burma. The lifting of the import ban illustrates the administration’s commitment to the easing of economic sanctions on Burma in response to the substantial and significant reforms that the Burmese government has implemented over the course of the past year. The government of Burma, including former political dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, have urged the U.S. government to lift the import ban in order to integrate the country into the global economy and begin to normalize economic relations between Burma and the United States.

Earlier this summer, Secretary of State Clinton announced the administration’s plans to begin easing restrictions on U.S. trade with Burma. The first steps taken were OFAC’s publication of General Licenses 16 and 17, which authorized the export of financial services to, and new investments in, Burma. 

Until the most recent actions taken last Friday, Section 537.203 of the Burmese Sanctions Regulations, which implements the 2003 Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act and Executive Order 13310, prohibited imports of Burmese-origin products into the United States. With the announcement of new General License 18, OFAC now authorizes certain imports of products from Burma into the United States. Specifically, products of Burmese origin, as determined under the rules of origin of the U.S. Customs Regulations, may be imported into the United States. However, because of continuing concerns relating to imports of jadeite and rubies from Burma, the prohibitions established under the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act of 2008, which amended the BFDA, will remain in effect. Thus, imports of jadeite and rubies mined or extracted from Burma, as well as imports of jewelry containing such gems, are still banned from import into the United States. The terms jadeite, rubies and articles of jewelry containing such gems refer to items classified in HTSUS headings 7103 or  7116.

General License 18 also does not authorize U.S. person dealings with blocked persons and entities designated on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals Lists. With the publication of General License 18, OFAC also announced the addition of entities to the SDN Lists, including front companies owned or controlled by Steven Law and Tay Za, cronies of the former regime in Burma.

For more information about the lifting of sanctions on Burma, as well as the requirements and restrictions of other U.S. embargoes and economic sanctions, please contact Melissa Miller Proctor, Donna L. Bade or Anu Gavini.

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