Statement of Common Understanding Reached
The U.S.-Myanmar Engagement Conference
May 29, 2015
The first U.S.-Myanmar Engagement Conference was successfully held at IUPUI, Indianapolis on May 29, 2015.
Approximately 150 individuals, including government officials, academics, businesses, civil society and community leaders, and other stakeholders from both the U.S. and Myanmar attended the conference. H.E Kyaw Tin delivered a keynote speech. Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi sent a video keynote address, while USAID Burma mission Chief Chris Milligan provided an audio remarks, underscoring on the ground situation of the U.S. engagement with Burma.
To promote substantive dialogue, and examine critical issues and opportunities for the future of Burma, the conference conveyed three panel discussions: Contextualizing Myanmar, Doing Business in and with Myanmar, and the Political and Legal Reform Process: Current Status and Future. After having daylong in-depth and extensive discussions, where panelists and attendees actively participated and engaged, the conference reached the following consensus and common understanding on the topics covered:
- The conference recognizes the complex nature of the Myanmar’s political crises, which is deeply rooted in ethnic conflict and appreciate the fact that the Burmese military has initiated the reform process which is being undertaken so far by President U Thein Sein’s government.
- The U.S. engagement with Burma and multifaceted approach policy towards the Southeast Asia Nation, maintained selective sanctions imposed on the country, while engaging and supporting various mechanisms and organizations to further democracy and development.
- The conference understands that a good number of the U.S. companies have begun conducting business in the country with a belief that such will have long-lasting positive impacts for both U.S. businesses and the Myanmar people. After undergoing numerous iterations, the legal environment and the process for foreign investment remains a significant challenge. The Myanmar government is working towards improving the legal framework and policy surrounding foreign investments, and the U.S. government is committed to providing further technical assistance and supporting responsible investments, adhering to the principles of Corporate Social Responsibilities.
- The conference sees the importance of the success of ongoing ceasefire negotiations before 2015 elections; the need for constitutional reform for the 2015 elections to be free and fair; and that these conditions and the implementation of the elections will be measured as barometer for the country’s commitment to democracy, transparency, and human rights.
- The conference identified lack of capacity in the country in particular as a significant challenge; therefore, the conference calls for further supports in an effort to increase resources in investing in people and education, for sophisticated society and economic development is essential to create sustained democratic society and continued progress in the country; and foster local institutional capacity and ultimately promote freedom and development.
- The conference reaffirmed its understanding that only continued and constructive engagement, open dialogue and inclusive process among the stakeholders—including political parties, ethnic armed organizations, and civil society groups inside—with the support and participation of Burmese expatriates and the international community will help the country reach national reconciliation, sustained peace, and prosperity in Myanmar in the long-term.
Anne M. Gillman, U.S. Department of Commerce, Dr. Nicholas Farrelly, Australian National University, Dany Khy, U.S. Agency for International Development, Aye Sanda Lwin, Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Washington, D.C., Jay Martin, US-ASEAN Business Council, Harn Yawnghwe, Euro-Burma Office, and Dr. Nehginpao Kipgen participated as panelists.
The Burmese American Community Institute (BACI)
IU Kelley School of Business Institute for International Business (IIB)
IU Center for Constitutional Democracy (CCD)
IU Office of International Development (OID)