20 Apr 2012

EU likely to suspend Myanmar sanctions

11:46 am on 20 April 2012

European diplomats are reported to have reached a preliminary agreement to suspend most European Union sanctions against Myanmar.

The final decision will be taken on Tuesday at a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

But senior sources in Brussels have told the BBC they expect that there will be agreement to suspend a "big chunk" of the current sanctions. Only the arms embargo will stay in place, they say.

The United States and Australia have already eased some sanctions in response to political reforms in Myanmar.

The military-backed civilian government has freed hundreds of political prisoners, including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who earlier this month was elected to parliament in a by-election in which her party won 43 out of the 45 seats it contested.

The military-backed ruling party nonetheless retains a large majority in parliament, where 25% of all seats are reserved for the military.

Travel ban, asset freeze likely to be lifted

According to the sources, the EU's travel ban and asset freeze for many Myanmar government officials will be lifted.

Aid and development money will be allowed into the country, as will investment into key parts of the economy - particularly the mining and logging sectors.

Exports from these industries will be allowed into the EU. There is also talk of establishing a preferential trade agreement with Myanmar.