The European Union is expected to lift all sanctions on Myanmar next week, except for an arms embargo, in recognition of the “remarkable process of reform” in the country, a document seen by Reuters showed on Wednesday.
The EU agreed a year ago to suspend most of its sanctions against Myanmar for a year in response to a dramatic series of reforms, but it is now expected to go further by agreeing “to lift all sanctions with the exception of the embargo on arms”, the document said.
The step, which was agreed by EU ambassadors on Wednesday, paving the way for ministerial approval on Monday, will allow European companies to invest in Myanmar, which has significant natural resources and borders economic giants China and India.
“The EU is willing to open a new chapter in its relations with Myanmar, building a lasting partnership,” said the document which contains the draft conclusions of Monday’s EU foreign ministers’ meeting.
The move could put pressure on the United States, which suspended sanctions in May last year and allowed U.S. companies to invest through a general license. Some American executives have urged Washington to go further and lift sanctions entirely to remove an element of uncertainty over their investments.
“The U.S. will no doubt carefully consider the lifting of sanctions by the EU and the rationale for that step in determining the next steps that the U.S. takes in relation to its Myanmar sanctions,” said Marae Ciantar, a Singapore-based lawyer at Allens, an international law firm.