On September 14th, President Obama pledged to lift all of the economic sanctions against Myanmar or Burma. This was a broad regime-focused sanctions program that had been in place for almost two decades.
In May of 1997, President Bill Clinton issued an executive order declaring a national emergency with respect to the actions and policies of the military junta that was governing Burma, specifically related to the repression of the democratic opposition and related activities. This Burma Sanctions Program was one of the country-based sanctions programs, which means that the sanctions prohibited not just transactions with particular people, but transactions with the then-ruling military junta or Burma, generally speaking.
In this way, it is similar to the sanctions programs for Iran, Sudan, Syria, Cuba and North Korea, but different from the smart sanctions approach, which only targets specific individuals and entities. The Burma Sanctions have changed a lot over time and there have been a number of different executive orders which have been issued, including Executive Order 13047, which was issued by President Bill Clinton on May 28th of 1997, as well as the congressional laws Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003; an additional Executive Order 13310 on July 28, 2003; Executive Order 13448, which was issued on October 18, 2007; Executive Order 13464, which was issued on April 30, 2008; the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act of 2008, which was signed into law on July 29th of that year; Executive Order 13619, which was issued by President Barack Obama on July 11, 2012; Executive Order 13651, which was issued by President Barack Obama on August 6, 2013; and now Obama’s pledge to withhold the sanctions regarding Myanmar.