The US has lifted a decade-long ban on most imports from Burma (also known as Myanmar), in a move that is likely to boost the country's garment industry.

The easing of restrictions on Friday (16 November) is in response to reforms by the country's military regime over the past year, and was made ahead of a historic visit by President Obama this week.

The import ban has been in place since 2003. Before the ban was introduced, garments made up the country's largest exports to the US.

Burma has taken progressive steps over the past year to improve human rights and implement democratic reforms. These steps have resulted in, among other things, the election of opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to the legislature.

In July, the US eased financial and investment sanctions against Burma, allowing the first new US investment in the Asian country for nearly 15 years. 

Similarly, the European Union (EU) in April decided to suspend most of its trade and economic sanctions against the country.

And in September the European Commission took a step towards reinstating trade preferences for Burma with a plan to bring the country back under the so-called 'Everything But Arms' trade regime, which is part of the EU's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

This would give products such as clothing duty- and quota-free access to the European market for the first time since 1997.