The Biden administration suspended a trade pact with Myanmar on Monday following one of the deadliest weekends in the country since the military ousted the civilian leadership and began a killing spree on civilians.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement that the halt on a 2013 trade agreement with the country would remain in place until a democratically elected government is restored.
“The killing of peaceful protesters, students, workers, labor leaders, medics and children has shocked the conscience of the international community,” Tai said in a statement. “These actions are a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy and the efforts of the Burmese people to achieve a peaceful and prosperous future.”
The suspension is largely a symbolic move to condemn the violence in Myanmar, where more than 100 people were killed Saturday during protests against the Tatmadaw, the country’s military, according to the United Nations. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said during a briefing on Monday that the suspension would take effect immediately.
“We’re deeply concerned by the recent escalation of violence against peaceful protesters in Burma,” Psaki said. “Burmese security forces are responsible for hundreds of deaths in Burma since they perpetrated a coup on February 1st.”
Myanmar, formerly Burma, is the United States’ 84th-largest trade partner, with the two countries exchanging $1.4 billion worth of goods during 2020. And the country was the United States’ 100th-largest goods export market last year, according to the U.S. trade representative’s office.
The Treasury Department last week also announced sanctions on two military holding companies in Myanmar to “target the economic resources of Burma’s military regime.”
The Tatmadaw has killed more than 420 people and assaulted, detained or tortured thousands of others since the Feb. 1 coup, according to a monitoring group.
Many of the civilians killed Saturday were bystanders, including teenagers and a 5-year-old boy. A baby girl in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, was also struck in the eye with a rubber bullet.
“Last week’s killing of children is just the most recent example of the horrific nature perpetrated by the military regime,” Psaki said.