Australia Eases Sanctions Against Burma

April 16, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Epoch Times Photo
Burma's president Thein Sein gets in a limousine after arriving at Pochentong airport in Phnom Penh on April 2, to attend the 20th Association Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN ) summit that took place in the Cambodian capital. (Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia is set to lift sanctions against Burmese President Thein Sein and at least 260 others who had been on a travel ban list. Australia will also start to normalize trade, said a joint press release by Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Trade minister Dr Craig Emerson.

“Reducing our sanctions and encouraging trade recognize the far-reaching political, economic and social reforms we are witnessing in Burma in recent times,” Senator Carr said.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr said on Monday that Burma’s progress towards democracy, including recent elections that saw 43 of 45 parliamentary seats go to the Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy party, is the reason Australia is lifting the sanctions.

Carr told media he decided to ease sanctions after talking with Suu Kyi, government members, and other countries.

The number of people subject to financial sanctions and travel restrictions will drop from 392 to about 130 individuals.

“We will continue to encourage the Burmese Government to continue down the path of reform, including by granting full political freedoms and reconciling with ethnic groups,” Carr said.

He also noted that if Burma does not continue on the path toward democracy, those sanctions could be reinstated.

Trade minister Emerson said Australia would end its previous policy of “neither encouraging nor discouraging trade nor investment with Burma,” and would seek opportunities for engagement.

“Increased trade and investment will help support the reform process in Burma, as well as enhance the economic prospects of ordinary Burmese,” Emerson said.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have expressed a willingness to remove sanctions on Burma following the elections on April 1.

Cameron last week in a visit to the Southeast Asian country said, “If Burma moves towards democracy then we should respond in kind, and we should not be slow in doing that,” the BBC reported.

“I hope that following my meetings I will have the confidence to go back to my country, back to others in the European Union, and argue that change in Burma is irreversible,” he added.