Australia recognises reform in Burma

Joint media release

  • The Hon Dr Craig Emerson, Minister for Trade and Competitiveness
  • Senator the Hon Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs

16 April 2012

The Australian Government is supporting the democratic transition underway in Burma by easing autonomous sanctions and normalising trade.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Trade Minister Craig Emerson said today the Australian Government, along with the international community, warmly welcomed the changes currently underway in Burma.

"Reducing our sanctions and encouraging trade recognise the far-reaching political, economic and social reforms we are witnessing in Burma in recent times," Senator Carr said.

"It is incumbent upon us now to support Burma in practical ways and seek greater engagement that will encourage these reforms to take root and sustain the conditions for further change to improve the lives of the Burmese people."

The Ministers acknowledged the role of President Thein Sein and the Burmese Government in delivering change, including through the release of over 500 political prisoners, progress toward peace with ethnic groups, and new laws that provide for greater freedom of expression and assembly, labour rights and political participation.

The sanctions adjustment will reduce the number of people subject to Australia's financial sanctions and travel restrictions from 392 to about 130 individuals.

Civilians, including the President and other reformists within the Government and Parliament, will be removed from the list, while serving military figures and individuals of human rights concern will remain. Australia will also retain its arms embargo.

"We will continue to encourage the Burmese Government to continue down the path of reform, including by granting full political freedoms and reconciling with ethnic groups," Senator Carr said.

Dr Emerson said Australia would also discontinue its policy of neither encouraging nor discouraging trade nor investment with Burma.

"I welcome the opportunities that normalised trade ties will present for the Burmese people and Australian companies," he said.

"Increased trade and investment will help support the reform process in Burma, as well as enhance the economic prospects of ordinary Burmese."

Media enquiries

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