The New Republic | Are Sanctions Changing Burma?
By: Nathan Pippenger
Today, the White House is expected to announce new steps designed to ease investment in Burma, the notoriously closed-off country whose ruling junta, to nearly everyone’s surprise, has recently begun to liberalize. The White House’s decision follows years of sanctions against Burma, but it’s far from clear that sanctions spurred the government’s recent reforms. In fact, their efficacy has long been disputed. What made effective sanctions against Burma so difficult?
According to a 2004 analysis by the International Crisis Group, it’s difficult to hobble Burma’s economy because Burma doesn’t have much of an economy to begin with. “The country does not have a modern economy,” the report declares. “Most people still live at a subsistence level,” and “the informal economy may be as large as or larger than the formal economy.”
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