Fred Hochberg, chairman of the U.S. government lending agency, said
the announcement would send "a strong signal that we are committed
to strengthening economic ties with Burma as the nation continues
"This decision ... will improve trade flows between our two
countries and help reintegrate Burma into the global economy," he
said in a statement, adding that it would also open an important new
market for U.S. exports and support American jobs.
The U.S. move follows the launching of political and economic
reforms in Myanmar since 2011 when a military government stepped
aside and the country started to move away from nearly half a
century of army rule and international isolation.
A senior bank official, briefing reporters in a conference call,
said its decision was made possible by a lifting of U.S. sanctions
and the end of a year-long moratorium on relending that followed a
big debt write-off by the Paris Club of creditor countries.
Another bank official said there were "exciting opportunities" in
Myanmar for U.S. exporters of agricultural commodities, in the
transportation sector, and in infrastructure, including power,
mining and agricultural equipment.
The bank said it would be able to provide export-credit insurance,
loan guarantees and direct loans for export sales.
It would also be able to offer short-term insurance for sovereign
transactions with repayment terms of 180 days or less, and up to 360
days for capital goods.
Medium-term insurance, loan guarantees and loans were also available
for sovereign transactions with terms up to five years, along with
capital guarantees to help U.S. exporters or their suppliers obtain
funds to produce or buy goods or services for export.
[to top of second column]
The bank would be able to provide long-term support for trade,
provided there were financing arrangements to eliminate or
externalize country risks, it said.
The first bank official said the aim was to create a level playing
field for U.S. exporters trying to compete with foreign firms that
were backed by export credit agencies.
"There has been a lot of interest expressed on the part of a lot
of different U.S. companies who would like to be able to compete in
the marketplace," he said.
Asked about continuing concerns over human rights in Myanmar, the
first bank official said the bank had taken into account the
political and social environment, but "in the narrow context ... of
A senior U.S. official said the United States continued to engage
the Myanmar government on events in the western Rakhine state, where
the United Nations and rights groups have said that at least 40
minority Muslims were killed by security forces and majority
Buddhist civilians in mid-January.
The United States said last month it was deeply disturbed by the
reports, and the U.S. official said Washington had reiterated a call
for a "credible and independent investigation".
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; editing
by Stephen Powell)
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