Issuance of Burma General License 20

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 7, 2015


In response to reports of unintended interruptions of Burmese trade due to sanctions concerns with a key Rangoon port, the Treasury Department issued General License 20 (GL 20) today. GL 20 is a technical fix to support exports to and from Burma, while maintaining the integrity of U.S. sanctions and pressure on Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs).

GL 20 is aimed at solving a discrete set of problems connected to use of critical infrastructure, as sanctions concerns were disproportionately affecting exports to and from Burma. GL 20 addresses this by authorizing certain ordinarily incident transactions with SDNs in relation to exports to or from individuals or entities not subject to sanctions. Prior to GL 20, these exports may have been subject to U.S. sanctions if they transited critical Burmese infrastructure – such as ports, toll roads, or airports – in a way that involved ordinarily incident transactions in which an SDN, or any other person whose property or interests in property are blocked pursuant to the Burma sanctions, had an interest.

The United States remains committed to maintaining pressure on Burma’s SDNs. GL 20 does not permit business dealings with SDNs outside the scope of transactions ordinarily incident to exports to and from Burma. For example, GL 20 does not authorize new investment with an SDN, including expansion of or upgrades to transportation facilities. Calibrated sanctions remain in place. These include, but are not limited to: a ban on new investment with the Ministry of Defense and SDNs; and a ban on the importation into the United States of Burmese-origin rubies, jadeite, and jewelry containing them.

GL 20 is not a response to the recent election and does not signal a change in U.S. sanctions policy toward Burma. Its duration is limited to six months, unless renewed or revoked. The outcome of Burma’s recent elections remains to be implemented as Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, the current government, and the military work toward a political transition that reflects the outcome of the elections and the will of the Burmese people.

Despite structural flaws, the elections were an important step forward in Burma’s democratic process. The U.S. government will continue to review all of our policies in light of continued progress on a range of issues; including a full political transition to democratic civilian government; the peace process; respect for human rights of all Burma’s diverse people, including the Rohingya population; and constitutional reforms.

This statement does not constitute legal advice. Questions regarding implementation of Burma sanctions should be referred to the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. For further information about United States’ Burma sanctions policy, please contact Laura Robinson, at (202) 647-4864 and RobinsonLA2@state.gov or Betsy Bourassa, at (202) 622-6490 and Elizabeth.Bourassa@treasury.gov.