On February 10, 2021, President Joe Biden issued Executive Order (EO) 14014, reimposing sanctions on Burma in response to the February 1 military coup of the democratically elected civilian government. Unlike the comprehensive sanctions that were lifted during the Obama administration, these new sanctions do not broadly restrict dealings with Burma or control dealings in investments or targeted industries. Rather, the new sanctions target specific individuals and organizations responsible for the coup. In conjunction with the EO, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced new export restrictions on Burma (Myanmar), which were published on February 18, 2021.
The EO grants the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) broad authority to block the property of, and restrict dealings with, parties that
- operate in the defense sector of the Burmese economy
- are involved in undermining the democratic process in Burma; threatening peace, security, or stability in Burma; or limiting free speech or human rights in Burma
- are or have been a leader or official of the military or security forces of Burma or the government of Burma on or after February 2, 2021, including political subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities
- are the spouse or adult child of sanctioned person under the EO
- assist (including by financial or technological means) sanctioned persons pursuant to EO
- are owned or controlled by military or security forces in Burma or by sanctioned persons under the EO
The following day, February 11, 2021, OFAC updated its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List to include 10 Burmese individuals and three Burmese entities connected to the military and National Defense and Security Council. As a result, all property interests of these designated parties are now blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in dealings with these parties.
BIS also tightened export controls on Burma to limit exports and re-exports of sensitive items to Burma’s military and security services. Specifically, BIS will presumptively deny export and re-export licenses for items destined to Burma’s Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Home Affairs, armed forces, and security services. Additionally, BIS revoked previously issued licenses to these parties that remain open and suspended the use of certain license exemptions that had been available to Burma. BIS is also considering adding parties to the BIS Entity List, which broadly imposes export license requirements on even nonsensitive items subject to the Export Administration Regulations and/or imposing on Burma the same military end user and end use restrictions that currently apply to China, Russia, and Venezuela.
The U.S. has indicated that these actions may only be the first. The Biden administration is also taking steps to restrict access by Burmese military officials to Burmese government funds held in the United States and working with international partners on additional actions to restore democracy in Burma.
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