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US clothing association calls for Burma imports ban

July 8, 2009 (DVB), The United States should immediately renew an expiring ban on imports from Burma due to ongoing human rights abuses in the country, the American Apparel and Footwear Association said on Monday.

A series of letters were sent by AAFA to the US Congress urging them to renew the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, which will expire on 26 July.

The trade association was the first business organisation to call for the implementation of the Act in 2003.

"AAFA once again calls on Congress to follow through on U.S. commitments to human rights and renew economic sanctions against Burma," said AAFA President and CEO Kevin M Burke.

"AAFA strongly supports this renewal because it will send a clear and unmistakable message that the United States is not interested in doing business with regimes like the one that brutally enslaves the people of Burma."

Blake added, however, that a unilateral approach would only have a "limited effect" on Burma.

"I hope the world community will join the United States in implementing economic sanctions to demonstrate that there is no room for oppression in the global marketplace."

While it is predominantly Western countries, including the US and European Union, that support sanctions on Burma, a number of Asian countries continue to trade with the regime.

According to Burma's Weekly Eleven journal, total foreign investment in Burma now stands at $US15 billion, the majority of which is chanelled into Burma's oil and gas sector.

China recently signed a deal to import gas from Burma's vast offshore reserves, while Thailand relies on Burma for much of its energy needs.

Thailand's prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said last week that the economic boycott of the country was "not useful" as Thailand looked to continue investment in the country.

British prime minister Gordon Brown on Saturday told the BBC that the lack of a sign of change from the regime "has put increased isolation – including the possibility of further sanctions – on the international agenda".

Reporting by Francis Wade


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