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Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

August 7, 1997 No. 130

Canada Announces Further Actions on Burma

Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy today announced further actions on Burma, including selective economic measures and humanitarian assistance. These measures underscore Canada's concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Burma and are intended to encourage the military regime to enter into meaningful political dialogue with the leaders of the democracy movement.

The Canadian government is withdrawing Burma's General Preferential Tariff eligibility and placing Burma on the Area Control List, which requires all exports from Canada to Burma to have an export permit. With these actions, Canada joins the United States and European Union in imposing selective economic measures against Burma.

"Burma's military leaders have made no effort to improve the current situation and have repeatedly failed to respond to the international community's attempts to open channels of communication," said Mr. Axworthy. "The actions we have taken today are intended to convey the seriousness of our concerns over the suppression of political freedoms and our frustration with Burma's failure to curb the production and trafficking of illegal drugs."

Mr. Axworthy will be reviewing Canada's contribution to the UN International Drug Control Program to determine how best to assist anti-drug projects in the region.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Minister for International Co-operation Diane Marleau also announced that the Canadian International Development Agency will be providing $350 000 in additional humanitarian assistance for Burmese refugees in Thailand. These funds will be used for emergency food aid to refugee camps and to support refugee assistance projects run by local and international non-governmental organizations. Canada suspended bilateral aid to Burma following the 1988 massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Rangoon.

"Since last year's ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] meetings when Canada sought to develop consensus on an approach to Burma, we have been engaged in ongoing consultations with a number of countries and international organizations," said Mr. Axworthy. "We call on the international community, and particularly Burma's ASEAN neighbours, to use their influence to encourage national reconciliation and a return to democracy in Burma. We also urge the Canadian business community to refrain from entering into further investment agreements or commercial ventures in Burma until improvements are evident."

Funding for this initiative was provided for in the February 1997 federal budget and is therefore built into the existing fiscal framework.

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