Burma President Meets w/ Obama in White House as Trade Relations Grow

 In Burma, export, import, Obama, President Thein Sein

U.S. relations with Burma, also known as Myanmar, are changing and drastically affecting U.S. import practices from the country.

President Thein Sein & President Obama in White HouseBurmese President Thein Sein just ended a historic visit to the United States, during which he met with President Barack Obama in the White House. This was the first visit from a president or head of state of Burma in about 50 years.

Over the last ten years, there have been virtually zero U.S. imports from Burma.

This is because in 2003, the U.S. placed sanctions on the country.

Near the end of last year, Obama removed sanctions on importing from the country and trade between our countries has begun to grow.

Yours truly, Universal Cargo Management actually got to play a role in shipping history, acting as the freight forwarder as MOL shipped a container of furniture from Yangon in Myanmar to Norfolk, Virginia.

Click here to read our blog about that historic shipment and the sanctions on Burma.

We’re not the only ones importing from Burma.

According to the United States Census Bureau, imports of goods from Burma in the first quarter of 2013 hit $1.4 million. That is a small number compared to imports from Burma before the sanctions were put into place.

In 2003, the trade in goods imported from Burma equaled $275.7 million. That number was with the sanctions knocking more than the last quarter of the year to virtually nothing for U.S. imports from Burma.

It is not only U.S. imports from Burma that are growing. U.S. exports to Burma have made a leap as well. The first quarter numbers for exports from the U.S. to Burma are $88.7 million. Total exports to Burma in all of 2012 only reached $65.8 million.

Just from the numbers above, it can be seen that Burma and the U.S. are not the largest of trade partners. Going back to the years before the sanctions, Burma exported a great deal more to the U.S. than we exported to Burma.

The most Burma exported to the U.S. in the 10 years before the sanctions was $469.9 million in goods in 2001. That year, U.S. exports to Burma only totaled $11.4 million. Even those fairly meager numbers are large compared most in the 10-year span before the sanctions.

If the Obama administration is successful in their goals of increasing U.S. trade and relations in Southeast Asia, the upcoming years could see more trade between the U.S. and Burma than has ever been seen in the past.

While President Thein Sein was here, a trade agreement was secured with the Obama administration.

Voice of America reported:

A member of Thein Sein’s delegation, deputy Burmese commerce minister Pwint San, signed the agreement with acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis on Tuesday.

Marantis’ office said the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement calls for the United States and Burma to identify business “initiatives” that support ongoing Burmese reforms and development projects that benefit the Burmese people, including the poorest. No specifics were provided.

Some worry that removing sanctions and making trade agreements with Burma will remove the pressure on the country to continue in their human rights reform efforts.

However, even some who have been strongly against resuming trade relations in the past have changed their views on relations with Burma as President Sein met with prominent lawmakers in Washington.

AFP reports:

Senator Mitch McConnell, who has spearheaded sanctions for the past decade over human rights concerns, said he would not support a renewal of the measures that banned a range of imports from the country formerly known as Burma.

“I believe renewing sanctions would be a slap in the face to Burmese reformers and embolden those within Burma who want to slow or reverse reform,” McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said after meeting Thein Sein.

Even in the language “the country formerly known as Burma” a shift can be seen in relations. In the past, the U.S. has called the country Burma not wanting to recognize the military junta that changed its name to Myanmar in 1989. But as he met with President Sein, President Obama adapted to calling the country Myanmar.

Here’s a video from the White House on their meeting:


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Source: Export

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