U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, today responded to the Obama Administration's recent decision to suspend economic sanctions against Burma.
"As one of the leading voices for economic growth and American collaboration in Burma, I applaud the Obama Administration's recent decision to suspend U.S. sanctions," said Inhofe. "However, I will be closely monitoring to ensure its thorough implementation through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). To promote transparency and democracy in Burma, it is critical the U.S. oil and gas industry does not become informally carved-out, as has been a rumored consideration. With China and Russia, as well as companies from the European Union already investing in Burma's energy, stalling or blocking America's involvement would be a strategic mistake.
"Rightfully there has been concern whether these new American investments will benefit the well being of the Burmese people. Our companies, including those in the energy sector, will promote greater transparency and respect for human rights. As the Department of State said in a recent hearing, our presence can play a "positive role' in advancing respectable business and labor standards for the people of Burma."
Inhofe has participated in a series of subcommittee hearings on Burma, including an April 26 hearing on U.S. policy in Burma. Inhofe submitted questions for the record (QFR), which were answered by Joseph Yun, principal deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of State, encouraging investments from all U.S. industries in Burma.
In May, Inhofe and U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, joined forces in sending a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for the lifting of economic sanctions against Burma for all U.S. industries. The letter stated the United States "should not be picking winners and losers in our economic engagement abroad."