Over the past few decades, bilateral trade between Burma/Myanmar and the EU has been far below that of other ASEAN countries, due to both restrictions from the EU side and the withdrawal of Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) status for Myanmar exports. However, since the government committed itself to reform in 2011, the new Government has undertaken a number of steps to reform its economy and increase investment by foreign firms.
The EU was one of the first to support these changes, suspending sanctions in April 2012 and lifting them in April 2013. A new framework for bilateral relations was established by the Council Conclusions of 22 April 2013, the Council Decision of April 22 2013 and the Comprehensive Framework of 22 July 2013.
Following recognition from the Conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) of Burma/Myanmar's progress towards eradication of forced labour in June 2012, EU preferential market access for Myanmar products was re-established on 19 July 2013, with retroactive application from 13 June 2012. As a least developed country, Burma/Myanmar benefits from the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative under the GSP, allowing companies to enjoy duty-free and quota-free exports to the EU market for all products except arms and ammunition. An increasing number of Myanmar exporters have been taking advantage of this scheme, boosting the local economy at a crucial time.
In March 2014, the EU and Burma/Myanmar launched negotiations for a bilateral Investment Protection Agreement, to help provide security for European investors and increase the level of European FDI into Burma/Myanmar, to the benefit of all. The EU recognises the vital contribution the private sector has to make to the country's development and would welcome European companies exploring trade and investment opportunities in Burma/Myanmar, whilst upholding highest standards of integrity and corporate social responsibility. The EU is committed to working with the authorities, the private sector and the people to create the best possible regulatory environment for business operators. The EU also welcomes the willingness of the government to address environmental risks, in particular those related to deforestation and the loss of biodiversity.
You can view the latest trade statistics between the EU and Burma/Myanmar at the European Commission's Trade Website.