Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Robert Hormats traveled to Naypyitaw and Rangoon, Burma, July 14-15. He was accompanied by recently arrived U.S. Ambassador to Burma Derek Mitchell as well as Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Joseph Yun, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Daniel Baer. This was the highest level economic and commercial delegation to visit Burma in more than a quarter century.
The delegation focused on expanding economic and business ties with Burma in the context of President Obama's recent announcement on easing restrictions to allow U.S. companies to invest in the country, Secretary of State Clinton's meeting on July 13 with President Thein Sein, and the Secretary's historic visit to the country last year.
Under Secretary Hormats discussed economic relations between our two countries with Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament Thura U Shwe Mann, Industry Minister Soe Thein, Central Bank Governor U Than Nyein, Deputy Commerce Minister Pwint Hsan, and National League for Democracy leader and Member of Parliament Aung San Suu Kyi.
During the meetings, Under Secretary Hormats welcomed recent democratic reforms and reconciliation efforts in Burma and explained that the U.S. Government would continue to match these reforms action for action with corresponding easing of U.S. sanctions. He underscored the importance of the President's and Secretary's statements that easing sanctions is recognition of progress to date and a signal of U.S. support and encouragement for continued reforms.
Under Secretary Hormats emphasized that the United States remains committed to working with the Government of Burma to improve transparency and anti-corruption efforts, including across state-owned companies such as the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), and urged the government to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). He also stressed the importance of respecting human rights, including promoting labor rights, protecting the rights of ethnic minorities, and releasing hundreds of remaining political prisoners, and noted that future progress in the bilateral relationship will depend on continued efforts in these areas.
Under Secretary Hormats also joined the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council Mission to Rangoon – the largest business delegation in a quarter century – comprised of more than 70 business leaders from more than 35 companies.