EU opens trade doors to Myanmar

Sept. 17, 2012 at 10:08 AM
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BRUSSELS, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The European Commission announced it backed a proposal to extend preferential trade arrangements to Myanmar in recognition of the country's political reforms.

Myanmar moved a step closer to democracy with general elections in 2010. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate freed from a lengthy house arrest that year, now serves as a member of Parliament.

The European Commission, in response, adopted a proposal to bring Myanmar back under the "Everything but Arms" trade regime.

"Myanmar is set to benefit once again from a special, advantageous trade arrangement with the European Union following recognition by the international community of the country's recent efforts to improve the political, social and labor environments there," the commission said in a statement.

The trade regime would give Myanmar duty-free access to the eurozone for all products except weapons and ammunition.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said trade is fundamental to supporting political stability in Myanmar.

U.S. President Barack Obama in July signed an executive order authorizing U.S. investments in Myanmar.

World leaders have expressed concern over Myanmar's human rights and national security record, however. The country in August established a 27-member coalition of national leaders to investigate religious violence in Rakhine, near the border with Bangladesh.

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