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Most trade sanctions against Myanmar lifted

Switzerland is suspending its trade and financial sanctions on Myanmar in line with a similar decision by the European Union.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said the move was a reaction to the southeast Asian country’s progress towards democracy and respect of human rights.

The cabinet approved a proposal to lift restrictions, gradually introduced in 2000 and which included a ban on trade in wood, coal, metal and precious stones, as well as financial sanctions on several individuals and companies, along with limitations on travel permits.

However, a trade embargo on military materiel will remain in place.

The decision is also aimed at encouraging the Myanmar government to pursue reforms said Thomas Biersteker, a professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

“When sanctions are suspended, the situation in the country concerned is often far from perfect,” he told swissinfo.ch. “But at some point you need to take a first step to promote further reform.”

Earlier this month, the Swiss government announced the lifting of a visa ban on President Thein Sein and 86 other Myanmar officials.

Under the recent democratic reforms, the party of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, won more than 40 seats in a recent parliamentary by-election and a number of political prisoners were released, according to Seco.

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