By Kate Rustici & Murray Hiebert
A bill that will allow the United States to support lending from international financial institutions (IFIs) to Myanmar passed the House of Representatives September 19, and was received by the Senate September 20.
UPDATE: This bill was passed in the Senate on Saturday, September 22 by unanimous consent.
The bill, introduced by Representative Edward Royce of California, will allow the president to waive the requirement that U.S. representatives to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) vote against loans to Myanmar.
Previously, U.S. representatives to the IFIs in the United States were required to oppose aid to Myanmar because of concerns about human rights abuses by the military junta which ruled the country until 2010. Though many of the major players in the new regime were part of the junta’s leadership, dramatic reforms and a rapid opening up of the country suggest that major transformation of the country may have begun. Myanmar lags behind in numerous socioeconomic indicators in health and education after decades of isolation and mismanagement.
The bill passed the House relatively quickly and quietly in the midst of a visit by Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s opposition leader and democracy activist. Aung San Suu Kyi called for further lifting of sanctions and greater economic engagement at numerous events in Washington over the past several days. If the bill passes the Senate, the World Bank and IMF would be expected to find increased support to provide technical assistance and project loans to support Myanmar’s political and economic reforms.
Separately, the Department of the Treasury September 19 announced it would remove President Thein Sein and Speaker of the Lower House Shwe Mann from its Specially Designated Nationals list.
Ms. Kathleen Rustici is a research associate with the Southeast Asia Program & Mr. Murray Hiebert is a Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Southeast Asia Program at CSIS.
Murray Hiebert serves as senior fellow and deputy director of the Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies at CSIS.