Canada-Burma relations

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Flag of Burma

Canada welcomes recent reforms and supports a peaceful transition in Burma that respects human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.  The Government of Canada stands ready to support Burma as it continues down its path towards democracy.

Historical

In July, 2012, Minister Baird announced that Canada would establish an Embassy in Burma located in Rangoon (Yangon). Canada’s first-ever resident Ambassador was appointed in March, 2013 and presented credentials to President Thein Sein in August.  Canada’s new Chancery at the Centrepoint Tower opened in May, 2014. 

On April 24, 2012, Canada eased its economic sanctions against Burma. Most prohibitions of the 2007 Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations (the “Burma Regulations”) were suspended, including those pertaining to exports, imports, financial services and investment. Burma has also been removed from the Area Control List, meaning that exports to Burma of goods and technology that are not included on the Export Control List (ECL) will no longer require an export permit issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs under the authority of the Export and Import Permits Act.

The amended Burma Regulations still include sanctions against certain listed individuals and entities and forbid trade in arms and related material along with related technical and financial assistance. Canadians and Canadian companies planning to conduct activities in Burma are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these remaining restrictions, and may wish to consult the Ministers’ open letter on doing business in Burma. More information is also available on our web page on Canada’s economic sanctions against Burma.

Programming

Canada continues to provide humanitarian assistance, to meet the basic needs of refugees and displaced Burmese, as well as to provide modest support to civil society organisations, independent media, local government, political parties, and parliament. The Government is also exploring how Canada can best contribute to sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction, support for the peace process, and democratic governance in Burma.

  • Burma is eligible for support through all DFATD channels, including the Global Peace and Security Fund, Multilateral and Global Programs, Partnerships for Development Innovation, and the Southeast Asia Regional Program.
  • Through a DFATD program of $15.9 million over five years (2010-2015) implemented by Canadian NGO Inter Pares, Canada supports the delivery of basic services to approximately 126,000 Burmese refugees living in camps in Thailand and more than 500,000 conflict-affected Burmese living in border areas, while also supporting the work of over fifty Burmese civil society organizations. 
  • Canada’s humanitarian assistance to Burma is channelled through experienced humanitarian organizations in the United Nations system, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Canadian non-governmental organizations. In 2013, Canada provided $6.1 million in humanitarian assistance to Burma. These efforts are helping to meet the needs of crisis-affected populations.  For example, with Canada’s support, the World Food Programme provided food and nutrition assistance to over 750,000 people in December 2013.
  • Through the Democracy Envelope of the Global Peace and Security Fund (GPSF), Canada is providing over $2M in 2013-14 to consolidate Burma's move towards democracy.  Programming aims to improve the knowledge of democracy and federalism among political actors and stakeholders, strengthen government- public engagement, and enhance the capacity of government representatives, administrators and civil society in practical skills for conflict prevention and democratic engagement.
  • The Embassy of Canada in Bangkok has supported small scale, community-led projects related to human rights, good governance and democratic development though the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives for Burma-related projects in Thailand (over $100,000 in 2012-13).

Canada also works with Burma through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Burma is a member state and Canada is a Dialogue Partner, as well as in the security-oriented ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).  Burma is ASEAN chair for 2014. 

May, 2014