EU to consider move to favour Burma imports


BRUSSELS – The European Union said yesterday it would consider reinstating preferential access for imports from Burma, following international recognition of progress on labour reforms in the country.

On Wednesday, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) lifted punitive restrictions on Burma, in place for more than a decade, in response to a new law on trade unions and a pledge to end forced labour by 2015.

“The EU fully recognises the importance of the ILO report and considers this a positive step forward in the process of the reinstatement of preferential market access for Burmese products to the European market,” the EU’s foreign policy and trade chiefs said in a joint statement.

The EU hopes to propose allowing tariff-free imports from Burma under its “everything but arms” initiative for less-developed countries, the statement said, without giving a timeframe for a decision.

The EU suspended most of its sanctions against Burma earlier this year after it released many political prisoners and allowed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy to contest byelections.

Ms Suu Kyi arrived in Oslo, Norway yesterday and will today receive the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded more than 20 years ago. – (Reuters)