The United States announced Monday (March 29) that it is suspending a trade and investment agreement with Burma until a democratically elected government returns to power. This is part of increased U.S. pressure on the Burmese junta, which staged a coup and violently suppressed peaceful protesters.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said Monday that the United States will immediately suspend “all trade engagement with Burma under the 2013 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
Under the agreement, the two countries have cooperated on trade and investment issues to integrate Burma into the global economy. This was the U.S. payback for the military’s decision at the Time to allow Burma to return to democracy. Burma’s democratic transition came to an abrupt halt with last month’s military coup.
“The United States supports the efforts of the people of Burma to restore a democratically elected government,” U.S. Trade Representative Dyche said in a statement. “The United States strongly condemns the brutal violence against civilians by Burmese security forces. The killings of peaceful protesters, students, workers, labor leaders, health care workers and children shock the conscience of the international community.”
The decision does not halt U.S. trade with Burma. But the U.S. has imposed several economic sanctions on Burma since the military’s Feb. 1 coup, including sanctions on two corporate groups controlled by the Burmese military.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sachs said at a press briefing at the White House Monday that the Biden administration will continue to take steps to hold the Burmese military regime accountable for the consequences. She mentioned that the U.S. has also imposed new export controls on Burma and added several Burmese companies to a trade blacklist.
She said:- “Of course, as we condemn the actions of the military, call for the immediate restoration of democracy, and hold those who seized power accountable, we will continue to work with our allies, partners, and like-minded institutions.”
There is not much bilateral trade between the U.S. and Burma. Last year, U.S. exports of goods to Burma were only $338 million; U.S. imports from Burma were $1 billion. By comparison, trade between Burma and its largest trading partner, China, reached $12 billion in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.