U.S. Continues to Ease Burma/Myanmar Investment Restrictions

Earlier this month, the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) removed certain long-standing barriers to American investment in Burma. From law firm Venable LLP:

“Eagerly awaited changes to U.S. financial and investment sanctions on Burma have finally arrived. U.S. businesses are now able to engage in new investment in Burma and provide financial services for the first time since the United States implemented sanctions against the country fifteen years ago. The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued General License Nos. 16 and 17 on July 11, 2012, which amend the Burmese Sanctions Regulations and now authorize certain long-restricted activities.” (OFAC Issues General Licenses Authorizing Investment and Exports of Financial Services to Burma)

For your reference, a roundup of legal advisories on the topic:

U.S. Conditionally Suspends Two Key Economic Sanctions Against Burma (Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP ):

“These general licenses implement President Obama’s announcement in May 2012 that the U.S. government would increase economic engagement with Burma. The general licenses are in line with similar steps undertaken in the European Union, Canada and Australia to lift their own sanctions with respect to Burma. As a result, there may be new opportunities for many companies to enter Burmese markets. However, new business in Burma should be undertaken cautiously, given that certain U.S. economic sanctions against Burma remain in place…” Read on>>

United States Reforms Burma Sanctions (Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP):

“Many parts of the U.S. sanctions regime for Burma remain in place, including restrictions on transactions with specially designated nationals and the Burmese military. Imports to the United States from Burma are still prohibited and ‘Special Measures’ relating to banks for anti-money laundering purposes continue, although they do not apply to transactions authorized by the general license permitting exports of financial services. Thus, while these reforms present new opportunities for U.S. and multi-national companies, a complicated sanctions regime and new reporting requirements remain in place and companies should proceed cautiously.” Read on>>

Relaxation of U.S. Sanctions Against Burma (Bryan Cave):

“U.S. persons making a new investment in Burma must make reports to the State Department if the aggregate value of their investments in Burma exceeds $500,000. To be included in such reports is information pertaining to human rights, workers’ rights, environmental stewardship, land acquisition, arrangements with ‘security service providers’ and aggregate annual payments exceeding $10,000 to Burmese government entities or state-owned enterprises.” Read on>>

US Eases Burmese Sanctions on New Investment and Exportation of Financial Services (White & Case LLP):

“The Administration notes that apart from these modifications, the sanctions regime against Burma will remain in effect in order to provide the US Government with leverage to reinstate full sanctions should political progress in Burma stall. Further, the general licenses expressly do not authorize investments or financial services involving the Burmese Ministry of Defense, state or non-state armed groups, or entities owned by the foregoing, or transactions with, directly or indirectly, blocked persons, which include both individuals and entities listed on the Specially Designated Nationals List (‘SDN List’), as well as any entities 50 percent or more owned by a Specially Designated National (‘SDN’).” Read on>>

Burma (Myanmar) Sanctions Eased, but Companies Required to Report on Responsible Business Practices (Foley Hoag LLP):

“Notably, companies are not required to have human rights, labor, and environmental policies and procedures, or to demonstrate that they implement them effectively, but rather merely to identify whether or not they exist. Nevertheless, the public nature of the reporting creates some pressure on companies to demonstrate that they take seriously the substantial social and environmental risks of operating in the long-isolated country.” Read on>>

See also:

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