USTR announced that it is exploring the possibility of designating Burma as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences ("GSP") on April 16, 2013. The United States previously suspended Burma's status as a beneficiary developing country in 1989 because of the country's failure to recognize labor rights. If granted, the beneficiary developing country designation would allow certain Burmese products to be imported duty-free into the United States. A public hearing will be held on June 4 to address whether Burma meets GSP eligibility requirements.
Including Burma under GSP also holds great symbolic value, as the Obama administration continues to work to promote trade and investment between the United States and Burma. During his May 20 visit to the United States, the first by a sitting Burmese president in almost 50 years, Burmese President Thein Sein stated that Burma hoped to establish a robust middle class and reiterated the country's willingness to welcome U.S. business to the region. General Electric marked President Sein's visit by announcing its intention to open two offices in Burma in the coming weeks, suggesting that U.S. companies are increasingly willing to seize these investment opportunities.