Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), two U.S. senators that rarely agree on anything, introduced legislation last week demanding a ban on all imports from Myanmar, the former Burma. The action comes on the heels of the May 30 detainment of opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and at least 17 others.
Burmese textile and shoe exports to the U.S. rose sharply in the late 1990s, but have fallen off since 2001 as more companies, under activist pressure, pledged to halt all imports from Burma.
Last month the Free Burma Coalition and other groups scored a major victory when the American Apparel & Footwear Association, a trade group made up of U.S. footwear and apparel vendors, announced it would call for a ban on footwear and apparel exports.
A number of retailers, including Saks, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Ames, and The Gap have already voluntarily stopped importing or selling goods from Myanmar. The AFL-CIO and other labor groups also support a ban. The International Labor Organization, for the first time in its history, called on all ILO members to impose sanctions on the country.