Last week, the United States announced that it would lift sanctions on four of Myanmar’s largest banks in hopes of continued economic development in the country, and as a reward for continued improvements in the country’s political system. As sanctions are lifted, the banks will now have access to the United States’ financial system and have the opportunity to interact with U.S. businesses and citizens. The four banks that will benefit, according to the Treasury Department, are the Myanmar Economic Bank, Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank, Asia Green Development Bank and Ayeyarwady Bank.
The Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David Cohen, stated, “Increased access to Burma’s banking system for our companies and non-governmental organizations will help to facilitate Burma’s continued social and economic development.”
Although most restrictions have been lifted, there are still mechanisms in place that allow the U.S. government to monitor the banks in case of a negative change in recent political reforms. In a similar gesture last summer, the U.S. Treasury began allowing U.S. companies to deal with Myanmar by way of investing and administering other financial assistance – as long as all transactions were recorded and disclosed.
This trend has continued for the last two years, as the European Union along with the U.S. have backed away from conditional restrictions regarding Myanmar’s political situation, which included the release of political prisoners.
Myanmar officials stated that previous sanctions had prevented the country from growing its economy and eradicating widespread poverty.
– Christina Kindlon