House Ways and Means Sharpens Burma Sanctions

Monday, 23 June 2003

"Too often the U.S. has passed unilateral sanctions without considering their effectiveness or the way to end them," said Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and co-Chairman of USA*Engage. "While we still believe that unilateral sanctions are unlikely to achieve the desired political change in Myanmar, we are encouraged by Chairman Thomas' and the committee's thoughtful attempt to create common sense grounds for evaluation of the statute's effectiveness and its eventual termination."

The Ways and Means Committee's changes include:

-termination of the Act in three years;
- an expanded reporting section focusing on the sanctions' effectiveness in achieving their stated goals;
- clarification of rules of origin to make sure that only Burmese products will be affected; and,
- a 15-day delay in the implementation of the sanctions to allow for the transfer of previously shipped products.

"We appreciate the Chairman's efforts to provide more specificity to the bill, and most importantly, his inclusion of a sunset date. The enhanced reporting requirements will make it easier to evaluate the true impact of the sanctions and to eliminate them if they turn out, as we expect, to be ineffective," Reinsch concluded.

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of over 670 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. For more information on USA*ENGAGE and the harmful effects of unilateral trade sanctions, visit the USA*ENGAGE web site at www.usaengage.org.