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June 12, 2012 

Update on U.S. Sanctions on Burma/Myanmar

It has now been nearly four weeks since President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton announced a change in U.S. policy that will lead to the "easing" and "suspension" of the existing sanctions on Burma (Myanmar). (See our original May 17th report here.)

Despite various media reports to the contrary, no changes in U.S. sanctions laws or regulations have actually occurred to date.

While there has been a great deal of interest by the business community in reengaging with Burma, the State Department and OFAC have yet to make any further public announcements on when changes to U.S. law actually will occur.

However, a Department of State spokesperson recently provided the following update:

“Implementation of the easing, in line with our calibrated approach, requires several general licenses, an executive order, and revisions to existing designation criteria. An interagency process to finalize these complicated steps is well underway.” 
Unlike some other sanctions programs, the U.S. sanctions on Burma are very complex since they are included in five federal laws, four Executive Orders, one Presidential Determination and one Presidential Proclamation.

Further complicating matters is that many businesses and government entities in Burma are included on OFAC's List of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN List) and determinations will have to be made on how to handle those parties in terms of the general licenses and other authorizations that are issued.

Finally, the Obama Administration is also trying to figure out how to implement the various Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives that were mentioned in Secretary of Clinton's May 17th statement.

While no timetable has been announced on when the required changes to U.S. law will be announced, it could still be several weeks before these changes are made.

In the meantime, U.S. companies and U.S. persons should be reminded that no changes in the U.S. sanctions on Burma have actually occurred and that they should seek guidance before making any changes in their current business policies or practices.

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