The United States Ends Sanctions on Burma (Myanmar)

By: Andrea Fraser-Reid
Date: 11/09/2016

After gradually easing sanctions on Burma since 2012 through the use of general licenses, the United States has formally lifted the economic and financial sanctions on Burma administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”).  President Obama issued Executive Order 13742 of October 7, 2016[1] terminating the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13047 of May 20, 1997, revoking that order as well as a number of Executive Orders that established the scope of the sanctions on Burma.[2] The president also waived financial and blocking sanctions in the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008.[3]  A fact sheet and FAQ were released.[4]   

As a result of the president’s actions, all individuals and entities blocked pursuant to the Burmese Sanctions Regulations (“BSR”) have been removed from OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (“SDN”) List.  All property and interests in property blocked pursuant to the BSR are unblocked.  Note, however, that this action applies only to BSR designations.  Persons also designated under any of the other sanctions regimes remain blocked. Again, property and interests in property blocked pursuant to a sanction regime in addition to the BSR remain blocked.

As a result of President Obama’s actions:

  • The ban on the importation into the United States of Burmese-origin jadeite and rubies, and any jewelry containing them, has been revoked;
  • All OFAC-administered restrictions under the Burma sanctions program regarding banking or financial transactions with Burma are no longer in effect;
  • OFAC will remove the BSR, 31 CFR Part 537, from the Code of Federal Regulations; and
  • Compliance with the State Department’s Responsible Investment Reporting Requirements is no longer required by OFAC’s regulations and is now voluntary.

As explained in the FAQ, the termination of the Burmese sanctions does not terminate pending Burma sanctions enforcement actions, nor does it preclude future OFAC enforcement investigations or actions related to apparent violations of the BSR when in effect.

The 2003 Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) finding that Burma was a “jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern” under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act remains intact.  OFAC general licenses issued in 2012 and 2013 authorized certain correspondent account activity with Burmese banks and loosened FinCEN’s restrictions on U.S. financial institutions from maintaining correspondent accounts for Burmese banks.   The removal of the Burmese sanctions has the effect of terminating the general licenses.   To continue to allow U.S. financial institutions to provide correspondent services to Burmese banks subject to the appropriate due diligence requirements, FinCEN has issued an administrative exception.[5]  Using an exception provides some relief to the restrictions while maintaining full rescission as an incentive for Burma’s ongoing anti-money laundering efforts.


[2] In addition to terminating the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13047, Executive Order 13742 revokes the following measures:  Executive order 13310 of July 28, 2003; Executive Order 13448 of October 18, 2007; Executive Order 13464 of April 30, 2008; Executive Order 13619 of July 11, 2012; and Executive Order 13651 of August 6, 2013.

[3] The JADE Act, PL 110-286 (50 U.S.C. § 1701 note), prohibits United States imports of jadeite and rubies from Burma.  The prohibition generally extends to jadeite and rubies from Burma regardless of where the jadeite and rubies were processed and/or country of export.