After nearly 20 years, the U.S. will lift economic sanctions against Myanmar (known as Burma until 1989). President Obama made this announcement on September 14, 2016 after meeting with the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. This was Suu Kyi’s first visit to Washington since winning landmark elections last year for her party, the National League for Democracy. The Obama Administration has been working for years to normalize relations with Myanmar. Since 2011, the U.S. had been easing sanctions as the country has demonstrated progress in reducing the military’s influence on the government, which was a requirement.
While some U.S. sanctions will remain, this announcement eases trade across many industries with Myanmar and the United States. The Obama Administration is continuing to push Myanmar to change the country’s constitution in order to reduce the military’s power even further. Currently, Myanmar’s military still controls the country’s defense and interior ministries and shares power with Suu Kyi’s administration.