House Approves Ban on Imports from Burma

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a one year renewal of a ban on imports from Burma. Burma was also the topic of remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate where a Republican senator discussed remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about military cooperation between Burma and North Korea.

In extending the import ban, lawmakers cited oppression by the ruling military government, and what the U.S. and other countries have called a sham trial of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Voice of America reports.

The resolution renews sanctions targeting imports from the military government in Myanmar. It also maintains a ban on importing jade and other gems from Myanmar. The legislation was first enacted in 2003, The Associated Press reports.

The president could lift the trade sanctions if he certifies to Congress that a series of conditions have been met, such as substantial and measurable progress to end human rights violations, release political prisoners, allow freedom of speech and religion and move toward democratic elections.

Despite the current law, the regime in Myanmar has been able to export millions of dollars in gemstones, particularly rubies and jade, to the United States by concealing their origin. Burmese exports of rubies and jade are worth an estimated $300 million, reports.