Canada said it will suspend some of its sanctions against Myanmar, in the wake of similar actions by other western nations following historic elections earlier this month which brought longtime pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi into parliament for the first time.
The Southeast Asian country has also taken a number of other steps, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners and some relaxations on media control.
Canada’s foreign affairs minister John Baird said that his government will lift prohibitions that were imposed on imports and exports in Myanmar, as well as on financial transactions.
However, Ottawa will keep in place a ban on any arms trade with Myanmar, also known as Burma.
This is progress but much more remains to be done. The reforms today are still in my judgment fragile, Baird said.
Canada has had some of the world’s toughest sanctions against Myanmar since 1988.
CTV reported that Baird visited Myanmar in March where he spoke personally with Suu Kyi.
Aung Sang Suu Kyi's relentless fight for the people of Burma is absolutely inspiring, Baird said.
This is probably one of the best examples in the modern era where sanctions have proven very effective. And given the government has undertaken such significant reforms, we're prepared to give them a shot. We're very hopeful and optimistic. At the same time we're not naive and we'll be watching very closely. We hope the political reforms will lead to an opening up of the economy and that will be good for the Burmese people.”
Baird also noted that he hopes Canadian firms will eventually be able to work in Myanmar, which is rich in natural resources.
However, there have been some troubling developments in Myanmar recently.
The country opposition party, Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), has decided to boycott parliament over the wording of an oath that MPs are required to take.