The EU is today expected to announce its intention to impose sanctions against Burmese military leaders involved in Myanmar’s recent
The EU is today expected to announce its intention to impose sanctions against Burmese military leaders involved in Myanmar’s recent coup.
Beyond statements of condemnation, the EU’s practical vehicles of response to the coup are targeted sanctions and altering trade agreements. The EU is Myanmar’s third-largest trade partner, a relationship fostered by the ‘Everything But Arms’ (EBA) system under which Burmese businesses enjoy tariff-free access to EU export markets for all goods except weapons and ammunition. Though some of Myanmar’s military leaders associated with Naypyidaw’s persecution of the Rohingya ethnic minority have been under EU sanctions since 2018, there are now calls to suspend the EBA.
Expect the EU to agree on sanctions targeting coup leaders. Repealing the EBA—as it did during 2018 sanction debates—would prove controversial, since the effects would fall largely on the civilian populace, the majority of whom disapprove of the coup. Nevertheless, sanctions likely will have little effect on changing junta policy—military leaders adapted to sanctions after 2018, storing wealth in tangible assets like precious metals to avoid bank account freezes. With ineffective sanctions and China’s silence, expect military leaders to continue ignoring international condemnations in the short-to-medium term.