WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- The United States eased the nearly decade-old ban on Myanmar imports, recognizing the country's progress, the State and the Treasury departments said.
The Myanmar government and its leadership, including opposition lawmaker Aung San Suu Kyi, have expressed hope that the import ban would be eased, to help integrate the country into the global economy, the cabinet departments said Friday in a joint release.
Friday's actions were intended to support the Myanmar government's reform efforts and to encourage further change, as well as offer new opportunities for Myanmar and U.S. businesses, the release said.
President Barack Obama is to travel to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, Monday.
In light of the positive steps Myanmar President Thein Sein's government has taken -- including prisoner releases, opening up elections, easing protest rules and allowing the formation of labor unions -- the United States issued a waiver and general license "to ease the ban on imports into the United States of products" from Myanmar, the release said.
However, because concerns remain about some areas of trade with Myanmar, "this waiver and license do not affect the existing prohibitions and restrictions on the importation of jadeite and rubies mined or extracted from [Myanmar], and on articles of jewelry containing them," the release said.
The two departments said they were "committed" to working with the Myanmar government to address the concerns.
Despite positive changes, the United States still is concerned about corruption, political prisoners, the country's military ties to North Korea and ethnic conflict, State and Treasury officials said.