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Canada-Burma relations

Canada welcomes recent reforms, and supports a peaceful transition in Burma that respects human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. 

As announced by Minister Baird in July, 2012, Canada is in the process of establishing an Embassy in Burma, which will be located in Rangoon (Yangon).  Canada’s first-ever resident Ambassador was appointed in March, 2013.

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. However, 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.  

Through whole of government efforts, Canada is working to strengthen democratic forces and civil society in Burma, as well as addressing the humanitarian needs of those who have sought refuge outside of Burma.

  • With contributions of more than $1.8 million over five years to independent media and other groups, the Democracy Envelope of the Global Peace and Security Fund (GPSF) has increased the knowledge and capacity of democratic actors and the people of Burma. In 2012-13, GPSF funded three projects in support of Burma’s democratic transition. The first project supported independent media and media reform; the second project increased knowledge and dialogue among key stakeholders on the practice of democracy and power sharing in ethnically and culturally diverse contexts; and the third project familiarized Burmese parliamentarians and public servants with the fundamentals of the Canadian model of parliamentary governance.  
  • The Embassy of Canada in Bangkok supports 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).
  • As a result of the changes to Canadian sanctions announced in April 2012, the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) can now include Burma in its programming through all channels, including Multilateral and Global Programs, Partnerships with Canadians, and the Southeast Asia Regional Program.
  • Through a Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) program of $15.9 million over five years (2010-2015) implemented by Canadian NGO Inter Pares, Canada supports the provision of basic services such as food and health care to Burmese refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons, while also supporting the work of over fifty civil society organizations based in nearby countries (Thailand, Bangladesh, India, China and Malaysia). 
  • In 2012, DFATD contributed $3.6 million in humanitarian assistance to Burma. Of this amount, $3 million in support was provided to the World Food Programme, $400,000 to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and $200,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

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).

April 2013

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