Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Overview of Burma sanctions

Burma's decision to extend pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest has triggered renewed calls for sanctions against its military rulers. The BBC looks at the existing sanctions and economic limitations in place.


In 1996 the EU adopted a Common Position on Burma which included a ban on the sale or transfer of arms and weapons expertise to the country, visa restrictions on members of the military regime and their families and allies, and a freeze on officials' overseas assets.

It also suspended all bilateral aid other than humanitarian assistance.

The sanctions were extended after troops violently suppressed anti-government protests in 2007 to include a ban on imports of gems, timbers and metals. But critics say no monitoring mechanism was put in place to enforce the ban.

They were further tightened in August 2009 when pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest was extended.


The US imposed an arms embargo on Burma in 1993 and then widened its sanctions four years later to include all new investment.

However, existing investment - including Unocal's (now Chevron's) gas project - was exempted.

In 2003, the Burma Freedom and Democracy Act banned imports from the country, but teak and gems - two of Burma's major exports - that had been processed in a third country were allowed. The act also restricted financial transactions, froze the assets of some financial institutions and extended visa restrictions on officials.

The Tom Lantos Block Burmese Jade (Junta's Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008 imposed a specific ban on jadeite and rubies which were mined in Burma, and on jewellery containing either of these precious stones.

US President Barack Obama renewed existing sanctions against Burma in May 2009.


Canada imposed sanctions on Burma in 2007 which banned exports, apart from humanitarian goods, and barred imports. The assets of Burmese citizens connected to the junta were frozen. Canada also outlawed the provision of financial services and technical data to Burma.


Japan cut aid to Burma in October 2007 following the death of a Japanese journalist covering the mass protests led by monks in September.

Japanese aid resumed following Cyclone Nargis in May 2008.

South East Asian grouping Asean has opposed the use of sanctions against Burma.

Australia has maintained visa restrictions on senior Burmese military figures and a ban on defence exports since 1988.

New Zealand has a long-standing ban on visas for military leaders and their families.

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