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US Export-Import Bank opens to Myanmar

T he US Export-Import Bank says it will start offering credit for trade with Myanmar, hoping to support businesses against competitors in a market that has boomed since democratic reforms.

Officials say they hope to boost US exports and jobs by providing similar terms as credit agencies from European and Asian nations, whose governments have gone even further in ending barriers to trade with the once pariah state.

“Hopefully, with this announcement, we can level the playing field and we can compete on the basis of price and quality, not terms”, said an official from the Export-Import Bank, who requested anonymity in line with agency policy.

Myanmar has undertaken sweeping reforms since former general Thein Sein became president in 2011, with the release of political prisoners, easing of censorship and a revamp of an antiquated exchange rate system.

President Barack Obama’s administration has heralded Myanmar’s changes as a success for diplomatic outreach, but critics say the United States has overlooked human rights violations.

The Export-Import Bank’s decision “is very much a reflection of [Myanmar’s] creditworthiness and it’s not connected to any particular event”, she said.

Foreign investors have been flocking to Myanmar, which has a large untapped consumer market, ample natural resources (including gas and oil), and a strategic location bordering China and India.

The Export-Import Bank is no stranger to the country. One of its first projects after its creation in 1934 was to provide US$22 million to build the Burma Road to supply China during its war with Japan.