April 17, 2013 / 3:31 PM / 4 years ago

EU set to lift sanctions against Myanmar, except on arms

Myanmar's President Thein Sein speaks at the opening ceremony of the annual Boao Forum in Boao, in southern China's Hainan province, Sunday, April 7, 2013.Alexander F. Yuan/Pool

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is expected to lift all sanctions on Myanmar next week, except for an arms embargo, in recognition of the "remarkable process of reform" in the country, a document obtained by Reuters showed on Wednesday.

The EU agreed a year ago to suspend most of its sanctions against Myanmar for a year, but it is now expected to go further by agreeing "to lift all sanctions with the exception of the embargo on arms," according to the document.

The step - which was agreed by EU ambassadors on Wednesday, paving the way for ministerial approval on Monday - will allow European companies to invest in Myanmar, which has significant natural resources and borders economic giants China and India.

The United States and other Western countries have been easing sanctions on Myanmar to reward a wave of political and economic reforms put in place since Myanmar's military stepped aside and a quasi-civilian government was installed in 2011.

As a result, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is attracting a surge of interest from overseas businesses keen to enter one of the last untapped markets in Asia.

The EU had frozen the assets of nearly 1,000 companies and institutions in Myanmar and banned almost 500 people from entering the EU. It also prohibited military-related technical help and banned investment in the mining, timber and precious metals sectors.

Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; Writing by Adrian Croft; Editing by Jon Hemming

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