On April 24, 2012, Canada announced that due to political change in Burma (also known as Myanmar), it has moved to lift certain of its sanctions against Burma by removing it from the Area Control List, and by removing most prohibitions from the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations. This alert provides an overview of these regulatory changes and of sanctions that remain in place to assist businesses that may wish to explore potential new opportunities in Burma.  

These amendments should be carefully reviewed and incorporated into the export control and screening procedures of Canadian companies who do business in and around Burma, and that are otherwise engaged in international trade.  

Area Control List

Among other amendments, Canada announced that Burma would no longer be identified on the Area Control List under the Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA). Under the EIPA, goods and technology cannot be exported or transferred to a country identified on the Area Control List except under the authority of a permit issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. As a matter of federal policy, this designation had the practical effect of closing Burma’s borders to Canadian exporters. Going forward, goods and technology will no longer require such a permit unless they are otherwise included on the Canada’s Export Control List.

Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations

In addition to the above, new Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations remove a number of restrictions previously set out in the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations. Promulgated under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) in 2007, the regulations contained numerous prohibitions, most notably on the export and import of goods, investment in property, and the provision of financial services. These, among with other restrictions (e.g. docking and landing of ships and aircraft) have now been lifted.  

Caution, however, that the following prohibitions remain in force:  

1. An asset freeze and prohibition against dealing with a lengthy list of designated persons associated with the military regime (including both companies and individuals); and  

2. An arms embargo covering the export of arms and related materials, and the provision of associated technical and financial assistance to Burma.  

Therefore, in considering whether to explore any new business opportunities in Burma, exporters must be cognizant of the sanctions which remain in force, and are advised to address these through the development and adoption of appropriate compliance measures. On this point, it is important to note that trade controls imposed under the SEMA, including the Burma sanctions, contain antiā€circumvention provisions that forbid persons in Canada or Canadians outside Canada from indirectly engaging in prohibited activities by doing anything that “causes, assists or promotes” such activities.  

For further discussion of appropriate export control and sanctions compliance measures, please see our earlier article “Canada Expands Its Economic Sanctions Against Iran” (November, 2011).

In recent years, Canadian trade controls and sanctions have changed frequently and often without warning as the Canadian government adapts its foreign policy to world events. Our International Trade Group can assist you in updating your compliance regimes to take account of these various measures. We can also provide advice and assistance in determining whether you are eligible for statutory exemptions to the sanctions or whether you can obtain a permit for otherwise restricted or prohibited activities or transactions.