U.S., Burma Sign Trade and Investment Framework Agreement
The re-establishment of trade relations between the U.S. and Burma continued at its breakneck pace this week with the signing of a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement. The signing took place May 21 during a visit of President Thein Sein and other senior Burmese officials to Washington, D.C., and comes just three weeks after the prospect of a TIFA was first mentioned. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the agreement will create “a platform for ongoing dialogue and cooperation on trade and investment issues” and that as part of this dialogue the two sides “will work together to identify initiatives that support the ongoing reform program and promote inclusive development that benefits the people of Burma, including the poorest segments of its population.” The U.S. will also seek to work with the Burmese government to achieve further improvements in the protection of worker rights, which is “a continuing area of concern to U.S. stakeholders and the international community.”
USTR notes that following the lifting of the U.S. ban on imports from Burma and the easing of other economic sanctions in 2012, bilateral trade has increased but remains small. Through the first three months of 2013, U.S. exports to Burma totaled $89 million while U.S. imports from Burma amounted to only $1 million.