Background

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Controls has expanded the current sanctions on Burma by designating two military holding companies: Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited (MEC).

According to Treasury, MEHL is a vast and secretive military conglomerate with business interests spanning the Burmese economy, from banking, trade, logistics, construction, and mining to tourism, agriculture, tobacco, food, and beverages. MEC is a holding company with businesses in the mining, manufacturing, and telecommunications sectors, as well as companies that supply natural resources to the military and operate factories producing goods for use by the military.

As a result of this action pursuant to Executive Order 14014, all property and interests in property of the entities named above that are in the U.S. or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.

Separately, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced March 29 the suspension of all U.S. engagement with Burma under the 2013 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. A USTR press release notes that the suspension will remain in effect until a return of a democratically elected government.

Notably, USTR said that it will also consider Burma’s situation with respect to the internationally recognized worker rights eligibility as Congress considers reauthorization of the Generalized System of Preferences program, which could result in Burma’s exclusion from GSP once it is reauthorized.

For more information on the Burma sanctions and ways to ensure compliance, please contact Kristine Pirnia. For more information on the GSP program, please contact David Olave.

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