The Obama administration moved Wednesday to lift longstanding U.S. trade sanctions on Burma in another step toward the normalizing of relations between the two nations.
In remarks to reporters, Obama said Burma's access to preferential tariffs for poorer nations would be restored nearly three decades after the nation was suspended from the list over human rights abuses. As a result of the “remarkable social and political transformation" in Burma, Obama said, he was “now prepared to lift sanctions that we have imposed. It is the right thing to do to ensure that the people of Burma see rewards for a new way of doing business.”
The United States had already lifted other economic sanctions, but human rights groups had cautioned against moving too quickly over fears that Burma's democratic transition is incomplete. The military retains 25 percent of the seats in parliament and controls several key ministries under a constitution that bars Suu Kyi from becoming president.
Obama acknowledged that more work needs to be done, but he called Burma "a good news story in an era when so often we see countries going the opposite direction."
Suu Kyi thanked Congress for pressing for human rights through the sanctions, but she said it is time for them to be lifted to encourage more economic development in her nation of 53 million people.
“I expect businessmen to come to our country to make profits," she said. Suu Kyi is scheduled to meet with congressional leaders Thursday on Capitol Hill.