The United States supports a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Burma that respects the human rights of all its peoples. After the military coup government's 1988 crackdown on Burma's democratic opposition and its failure to honor the results of the country's 1990 parliamentary election, bilateral relations between the United States and Burma became strained. The United States and other members of the international community began to impose a range of economic, financial, and travel sanctions against Burma and support resolutions at the United Nations to mobilize international attention on the deplorable human rights situation. In 1990, the United States downgraded its level of diplomatic representation from Ambassador to Charge d'Affaires.
In 2009, the United States launched a new policy principled engagement including direct, senior-level dialogue with Burmese authorities. Relations between the United States and Burma began to improve, following the formation in March 2011 of a more civilian government under President Thein Sein. The new Burmese Government has implemented a series of reform efforts including releasing hundreds of political prisoners, signing preliminary ceasefire agreements with several ethnic armed groups, and holding credible parliamentary by-elections in which pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her opposition party won a landslide victory.
Secretary Clinton traveled to Burma in December 2011, marking the first visit by a U.S. Secretary of State in 56 years and an important turning point in U.S-Burma ties. The Burmese Government has continued on the path of reform since Secretary Clinton’s visit and the United States has demonstrated its commitment to supporting Burma’s reform agenda through principled engagement and an “action-for-action” strategy to respond to the reforms and incentivize further progress.
The U.S. seeks to deepen cooperation on a wide range of issues that promote democratization and national reconciliation. In recent months, the United States has fully restored diplomatic relations, taken steps to re-establish a USAID Mission in country, provided support for assessment missions and technical assistance by international financial institutions, and eased financial and investment sanctions against Burma.
The Barack Obama administration regularly consults with the U.S. Congress as well as U.S. allies and friends in Europe and Asia in appropriate ways to respond to developments in the country.
The military government changed the country name to "Myanmar" in 1989. It remains U.S. policy to refer to the country as Burma.
U.S. Assistance to Burma
As part of its response to Burma's steps toward reform, the U.S. is re-establishing an in-country U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) mission. The United States has also decided to support a normal country program for the United Nations Development Program, and to enable private organizations in the U.S. to pursue a broad range of nonprofit activities from democracy building to health and education
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States had imposed an array of economic sanctions on Burma, including bans on the importation of Burmese products into the U.S. and the export of financial services from the U.S. to Burma. Although U.S. exports to Burma (other than financial services) have been permitted, very little trade has flowed in that direction.
As a result of Burma's political and economic reform progress, the United States eased the bans on the export of U.S. financial services and new investment in July. This sanctions easing is part of a broader effort to help accelerate broad based economic growth and recognize and encourage political reform. The United States continues to maintain a ban on all imports from Burma including rubies and jadeite substantially transformed in a third country.
Burma's Membership in International Organizations
Burma became a member of the United Nations in 1948 following independence from the United Kingdom. Burma and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the UN, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.
The U.S. Ambassador to Burma is Derek J. Mitchell; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List. position. W. Patrick Murphy is currently the acting Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma
Burma maintains an embassy in the United States at 2300 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel.: (202) 332-3344; fax: (202) 332-4351.
More information about Burma is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
Department of State Burma Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Burma Page
USAID Burma Page
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions Page