Myanmar Monitor Weekly

Foreign Affairs

US to end Economic Sanctions against Myanmar
US President Barack Obama said the US will lift the sanctions program in place against Myanmar after nearly 20 years, a decision that clears one of the last remaining obstacles to fully normalized relations. Obama made the announcement on 14 September after meeting Aung San Suu Kyi in the Oval Office during her Washington visit. “It is the right thing to do in order to ensure that the people of Burma see rewards from a new way of doing business and a new government,” he said.
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Myanmar refugees outpace Syrian arrivals in the US
Refugees from Myanmar have quietly outpaced Syrian arrivals in recent years, even as Syria’s civil war intensifies, with an increasing number coming from the marginalized Rohingya Muslim community, according to US State Department figures. From 1 October 2015 to 15 September 2016, 11,902 Myanmar nationals were resettled in the United States, compared to 11,598 arrivals from Syria over the same time period. That was out of a total of nearly 79,600 refugees who arrived in the United States in that period, with the largest group of just over 15,000 from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.
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Myanmar, Indonesia to launch disaster response handbook
Officials from Myanmar and Indonesia are compiling the ASEAN Handbook on Disaster Recovery, focusing particularly on prevention and recovery measures, with input from regional experts. In development since 2013, the handbook will feature in-depth studies of natural disasters that have occurred in ASEAN countries.
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Myanmar ditches controversial ‘midnight inspections’ law
The so-called “midnight inspections” law, which allowed Myanmar police to raid homes late at night and harass activists, are to be scrapped. Some parts of the law has been kept for security reasons, according to U Win Htein, aide to Aung San Suu Kyi, meaning the police will no longer be able to force their way into homes but can “ask about the presence of strangers in an honourable way.”
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Pocket change: Myanmar banks on mobile money
With an embryonic banking system, about 90% of the Myanmar population still do not have a bank account. With just some 1,500 branches in a largely rural country, experts say it will take years to build enough banks to reach the 51 million population. The new civilian leaders are therefore banking on mobile money as a shortcut. Wave Money, one of the first mobile banking firms to roll out services, has built a network of 4,000 mum-and-pop shops around the country where clients can deposit and withdraw cash by phone.
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South Korea’s fourth-largest bank opens branch in Myanmar
Shinhan Bank, South Korea’s fourth-largest bank by assets, said on 20 September that it has set up a branch in Myanmar as part of its diversification strategy. The bank said its branch could help South Korean companies enter the Myanmar markets. This is the first time a South Korean lender sets up a branch in Myanmar.
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