On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would be easing some of its economic sanctions on Burma. Under new provisions, seven Burmese companies and three state-run banks will be allowed to engage in business with American corporations. The announcement shortly followed the seating of Burma's first democratically elected government in decades, led by the opposition party of revolutionary Aung San Suu Kyi. Obama cited several other developments in Burma that led to this decision: the freeing of several political prisoners, the discharge of child soldiers from the Burmese military, and improved labor standards. The lifting of these particular sanctions is meant to reward Burma for taking the steps toward a more democratic society.
Much of Burma's political history since 1962 has been characterized by authoritarian rule, when military leader Ne Win took control of the nation with a coup d'état. Civil wars and military power have been seen as characteristics of the country, making the rest of the world reluctant to pursue relationships. Over the last two decades, Burma has taken firmer steps to establish democratic rule. A new constitution, free elections, and the growing power of the National League for Democracy were all seen as efforts by the nation to deviate from previous dictatorial regimes. In 2011, military control of Burma officially ended, and a solidarity party took power. These developments have given Burma a more positive image to the rest of the world. In 2013, the European Union lifted many of their sanctions against Burma, though they still kept an arms embargo in place.
The United States has reacted favorably to Burma's continued transition to democracy; however, not all sanctions are to be lifted just yet. The U.S. government is still wary of Burma's overbearing military presence, as well as continued reports of human rights violations. As a result, most economic restrictions against the country are to remain in place until further progress is made. In the meanwhile, the opened business relationship with Burma will benefit American corporations who have stations in Burma, including General Electric and Coca-Cola. The deal will also benefit the Burmese economy, with the addition of the world's biggest economy as a business partner. If Burma continues to embrace democratic reform, a bountiful business and diplomatic relationship with the United States may come into bloom.