In response to the purported human rights situation now prevailing in Myanmar (Burma), the Canadian government has enacted the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act. The Regulations came into force when registered, on December 13, 2007. Subject to certain exceptions, the measures implemented by the Regulations include:

  • a ban on all goods exported from Canada to Burma, excepting only the export of humanitarian goods;
  • a ban on all goods imported from Burma into Canada;
  • a freeze on assets in Canada of any designated Burmese nationals connected with the Burmese State;
  • a ban on new investment in Burma by Canadian persons and companies;
  • a prohibition on the provision of Canadian financial services to and from Burma;
  • a prohibition on the export of any technical data to Burma;
  • a prohibition on Canadian-registered ships or aircraft from docking or landing in Burma; and
  • a prohibition on Burmese-registered ships or aircraft from docking or landing in Canada and passing through Canada.

Sections 3, 4, 9 and 10 of the Regulations, in particular, provide as follows:

3. Subject to Section 18, no person in Canada shall export, sell, supply or ship any goods, wherever situated, to Burma, to any person in Burma or to any person for the purposes of any business carried on in or operated from Burma.

4. Subject to Section 18, no person in Canada shall import, purchase, acquire, ship or tranship any goods that are exported, supplied or shipped from Burma after the date of the coming into force of these Regulations, whether the goods originated in Burma or elsewhere.

9. No person shall dock in Canada or pass through Canada a ship that is registered in Burma, except if docking in Canada is necessary to safeguard human life.

10. No person shall dock in Burma a ship that is registered or licensed, or for which an identification number has been issued, pursuant to any Act of Parliament, except if docking in Burma is necessary to safeguard human life or to ensure access to humanitarian assistance.

Section 18 lists various exceptions to the prohibitions in Sections 3 and 4, including, for example, goods consigned to the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok, international organizations with diplomatic status, UN agencies, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent or nongovernmental organization involved in humanitarian relief work in Burma, provided that an export permit under the Export and Import Permits Act has been granted for goods exported from Canada to Burma.

Sections 3 and 4 do not apply either to personal or settlers’ effects taken or shipped by an individual leaving Canada or Burma and that are solely for the use of the individual or the individual’s immediate family.

Nor do those two sections apply to supplies exported from Canada to Burma, provided that an export permit under the Export and Import Permits Act has been granted for them, that no property referred to in Section 5 is used for payment (i.e. property of persons designated in the schedule as related to the Government of Burma and various associated bodies), and that the supplies are:

(a) intended strictly for medical purposes and consigned to a medical facility such as a hospital or clinic; or

(b) composed of foodstuffs intended for human consumption; or

(c) informational materials, including books and other publications, provided that an export permit under the Export and Import Permits Act has been granted for those goods exported from Canada to Burma, that they do not contain technical data and that no property referred to in Section 5 is used for their payment; and

(d) personal correspondence including lettermail, printed papers and postcards of a weight not exceeding 250g per item of correspondence.

These new Regulations are of obvious importance to any entities involved in trade with or shipping to or from Burma.