Senate Passes Burmese Embargo Bill
December 20, 07
Following the passage of a similar bill in the U.S. House of Representatives last week, legislation to ban the import of Burmese (Myanmar) rubies and timber was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate yesterday (Wednesday). Lawmakers also intensified calls to impose a UN arms embargo on the Southeast Asian country.
The Burma Democracy Promotion Act of 2007 would ban the import of Myanmar gems and timber, two of the country’s most lucrative resources, freeze the assets of the country’s leaders and stops the military-ruled country from using U.S. financial institutions via third countries to launder its leaders’ funds.
It must now be signed by President Bush to be enacted into law.
The Burmese government came under fierce criticism from U.S. and international organizations and jewelry industry members urging sanctions against the country’s gem trade after the ruling junta violently suppressed peaceful protests throughout the country in August and September.
Myanmar earns approximately $300 million per annum from sales of its rubies. In the past, it has gotten around U.S. sanctions by sending the stones through third countries – China, India and Thailand. The current bill would prevent this, closing key loopholes in U.S. policy vis a vis Myanmar.