Doing Business in Myanmar
Burma is going through a period of major political, economic, and social reform. Foreign investors from around the globe are seeking to enter a market that has been largely isolated from the world economy for over two decades. Until 2012, Burma was virtually off limits to U.S. companies due to U.S. sanctions against Burma including bans on investment, the importation of Burmese products into the U.S. and the export of financial services from the U.S. to Burma.
In March 2011, Myanmar’s military government transitioned to a nominally civilian one and initiated a series of small but significant democratic reforms. In April 2012, the government held a parliamentary by-election that was considered largely free and fair by the international community. In the by-election, the opposition National League of Democracy (NLD) party won 43 out of the 45 seats contested, or approximately seven percent of all seats in parliament. Aung San Suu Kyi, became a member of parliament for the first time. The Parliament is still dominated by the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), and both the upper and lower houses of Parliament have 25% of their seats reserved for the military.
On July 11, 2012, the Department of Treasury issued two general licenses that allow new U.S. investment in Burma as well as authorize the exportation of financial services to Burma. The Obama Administration further eased sanctions by allowing Burmese exports to the US. In May 2013, the U.S. and Burma signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to promote dialogue and cooperation on trade and investment issues. The easing of sanctions is part of a broader effort to help accelerate broad-based economic growth and recognize and encourage continued political and economic reform.
Some U.S. economic sanctions remain in place, including restrictions on doing business with the military or individuals or companies on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, which is compiled and maintained by the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).