U.S. Considers Further Trade Liberalization with Burma
U.S. moves to open trade with Burma after decades of restrictions took another step forward this week when Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis raised the prospect of negotiating a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement during a visit to the Burmese capital. Marantis said a TIFA would provide a forum for regular engagement to identify opportunities and solve problems and would thus be “an important step in normalizing our bilateral commercial relationship.” Marantis also discussed with senior officials potential opportunities under the Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) Initiative, a new framework designed to expand trade and investment ties between the U.S. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, when the Burmese government assumes leadership of ASEAN in 2014.
Over the last year the U.S. has moved rapidly to re-establish trade links with Burma in response to reforms implemented by that country’s ruling military regime. New investments in Burma were authorized in summer 2012 and a long-standing U.S. ban on imports from that country was lifted last November. USTR is currently reviewing whether to also extend eligibility for duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences to Burmese goods, and USTR states that one of the topics discussed by officials this week was “ongoing reforms as part of the path to GSP.”