Mar 9, 2013

Most Myanmar banks permitted to do business with US firms, bankers say

Except for the three banks still on the United States’ blacklist, all banks in Myanmar with permission to conduct international banking can make transactions with US companies, bankers here said.

They said that the recent removal of four Myanmar banks from the US blacklist created the misunderstanding that only those four banks could conduct transactions with US businesses.

Cooperative Bank managing director Pe Myint said sanctions differed from the blacklist. “Sanctions are imposed on the country, while certain individuals are blacklisted. Our bank has not been blacklisted, but sanctions apply to all the banks in the country,” Pe Myint said.

“Since half of the sanctions were eased last year, we can begin [some transactions]. But those [banks] blacklisted cannot although sanctions have been eased. Only when they are cleared from the blacklist, can they conduct business [with US businesses],” he said.

Kanbawza Bank director for international banking Nyo Myint said his bank has been making transactions with US companies since the sanctions were eased last year. “Our bank has never been blacklisted by the US,” he said. “We have been providing letters of credit and telex transfer services. We are also working with US financial institutions like VISA, MasterCard and Western Union”.

On February 22, US Department of the Treasury declared that US banks can make transactions with four Myanmar banks: two state-run banks, Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank and Myanmar Economic Bank; and two privately owned banks, Asia Green Development Bank and Ayeyarwaddy Bank.

The four were previously blacklisted.

Although those banks are now allowed to open individual and corporate accounts and make financial transactions with US companies, they are still restricted from forming joint ventures with US banks.

The remaining three banks on the US blacklist are military-owned Innwa Bank and Myawaddy Bank and state-run Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank.

Last year the US began lifting sanctions it imposed on Myanmar from 1990 to 2011.

The Central Bank permits 11 of Myanmar’s 19 private banks and three of its four state-owned banks to conduct international banking.

Foreign banks are not allowed to operate wholly owned subsidiaries, but 28 have representative offices here.

Source: Eleven Weekly Media