BY | November 17, 2012

Washington, (IANS) The US Friday eased decade-old import restrictions on Myanmar goods just days before President Barack Obama sets foot on the Southeast Asian nation.

The Treasury Department said the move was taken to support the ongoing reform efforts in the nation, encourage “further change” and offer new opportunities for businesses in both countries, Xinhua reported.

As a result, the US will open up to most products from Myanmar under a waiver and general license with the exception of jadeite and rubies mined or extracted from the country, and jewelry containing them.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Sep 26 that Washington will begin the process of easing import ban put in place since 2003, in response to the advances made in the country’s reform efforts over the past year.

She made the pledge in her meeting in New York with Myanmar president U Thein Sein who has initiated a series of reform since taking office in March 2011.

The reforms included releasing hundreds of political prisoners, cease-fire agreements with ethnic groups, and holding parliamentary by-elections in which Aung San Suu Kyi and her opposition party won a landslide victory.

Clinton travelled to Myanmar in December 2011, making her the first US secretary of state to visit the country in 56 years.

Washington restored diplomatic relations with Myanmar and ended sanctions on investment there in July. And Obama himself will travel there Monday, the first to do so by a sitting US president.

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