US Embassy Burma Rangoon

U.S. Embassy Rangoon, Burma

In an unconventional sequence of events, the United States and Burma established diplomatic relations prior to Burma’s formal independence from the British Empire. The multistage independence process agreed to by the Burmese and the British allowed for the creation of a provisional government with the authority to conduct relations with other states before Burma attained full, sovereign independence. The United States recognized the Union of Burma as an “independent sovereign state” on January 4, 1948, when President Harry S. Truman sent a congratulatory message to President Sao Shwe Thaike, Saopha of Yawnghae. Burma had previously been a part of the British Empire and in January 1947, Burmese political leaders reached an agreement with the British government on the process by which Burma would achieve independence. In 1947, the Burmese selected a Constituent Assembly, devised a Constitution, and established a provisional Government of Burma with which the United States established diplomatic relations before Burma’s formal independence.

The U.S. supports a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Burma that respects the human rights of all its people. Burma remains a country in transition to democracy, and faces significant ongoing challenges and human rights issues.

The U.S. has a long-standing commitment to improving the lives of the people of Burma. After the USAID Mission was closed in 1989, the U.S. continued to deliver emergency humanitarian assistance along the Thailand-Burma border, including through NGO partners for Burmese refugees and asylum seekers in the refugee camps on the border. The U.S. resumed targeted health programs in 1998.

In recognition of Burma’s political and economic reform progress, the U.S. has taken concrete steps to accelerate broad-based economic growth and support the political reform process. The U.S. played an instrumental role in supporting renewed engagement from multilateral development banks, which re-started operations in 2013. In 2016, the U.S. terminated the national emergency with respect to Burma, which had been in place since 1997. The termination removed a range of economic and financial sanctions, including the designations of individuals and entities listed on the Office of Foreign Assets List pursuant to U.S. sanctions on Burma.

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United States Department of State, Office of the Historian and Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

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U.S. Embassy in Burma