The ball is in Myanmar’s court now after the United States has lifted the economic sanctions on Myanmar which were imposed in May, 1997. The United States has now removed all individuals and entities from the US sanctions list, including former military leaders and many major companies.
It is not surprising that the move followed a meeting between State Consellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President Barack Obama at the White House on 14 September. Mr Obama issued a statement saying he would reinstate Myanmar to the Generalised System of Preferences(GSP), which provides duty-free treatment for goods from poor and developing countries Myanmar with a per capita income of about US$ 1280 is entitled to GSP benefits and is strategically located between the economic giants, China and India ; the former is the second-biggest economy after the United States and the latter is the biggest developing country in the world. Both countries share a long border with Myanmar with their own interests in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country.
India is seeking to reinforce its relationships with ASEAN under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Act East” strategy as Myanmar is the gateway for India. India and Myanmar were under the British rule for many years and are naturally linked with each other culturally, socially and historically. In the east stands China which is ranked as the second-biggest economy which enjoyed close relationships with former military governments. During 1988 uprising the West imposed sanctions on Myanmar, forcing our country to rely on China for trade and political support in the international communities especially at the United Nations. At the same time China has an opportunity to play a major role as a builder in Myanmar, a nation strategically located between India, China and the Southeast Asia and with an access to Indian Ocean.
But the United States is not completely out of the picture, some analysts argue. President Obama affirmed continued US support for Myanmar’s democratic transition during State Counsellor’s official visit to Washington,D .C in September, 2016. Both leaders noted that Myanmar’s transition has allowed for a dramatic change in the bilateral relationships.
The State Counsellor’s tender balancing diplomacy is already producing results: China and India are willing to offer attractive terms of support to prevent Myanmar from being swayed to the other side. The United States has lifted economic sanctions on Myanmar and Japan is coming in with massive aids. The State Counsellor’s cautious diplomatic skill is balanced to maintain a reasonable distance from its neighbours.
Like it or not, Myanmar was once regarded as an isolated pariah state or impoverished, strife-ridden Southeast Asian country. Under the new government, Myanmar is no longer in that position now; it is somewhat like a village belle courted by many handsome boys. The new government has opened its doors to the outside world , attracting a lot of investors from big powers such as the US, China , India and Japan.
In this situation, what should all individuals and entities removed from the US sanctions list do for the benefits of the country and for themselves regardless of their political and economic backgrounds. In this connection, my own suggestions: look to the future; hope for the best and prepare for the worst. All parties to civil conflict in the country are earnestly requested to seize the opportunity offered by the 21st Century Panglong Peace process to build the foundations for a democratic, federal Union. She expressed her belief during discussions with President Obama that the Panglong Peace process would lead to a lasting peace with armed ethnic groups In conclusion, the United States has its part in Myanmar’s democratic transition by lifting the economic sanctions. China and India are willing to help us too; so is Japan which has already promised massive financial aids for the infrastructure developments in the country.
The ball is in our court now. How should we respond to international reactions during our democratic transition at this opportune moment?
With unswerving belief, we the people of Myanmar should take an active part in all activities created by the democratically elected new government.