Representatives from Google, Microsoft, HP, and Cisco, and Intel visited Burma last week on a trade visit convened by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Myanmar, also know as Burma, is a military-controlled state which was subjected to major sanctions by the United States and the European Union until 2011. Since taking power in 1982, the country's military government has been suspected of widespread use of child soldiers, systematic rape, slavery, and of other human rights abuses. According to USAID, the visit was dedicated to exploring joint opportunities to create affordable Internet access, bolstering local tech skills, and “strengthening transparent and efficient government.”
In an about-face, Myanmar's military government released prominent opposition activist Aung San Suu Kyi in 2011 and began limited political and human rights reforms. This past September, MasterCard entered the country's market for the first time with debit cards for local banks. “I believe the government and industry and higher education leaders appreciated the commitment these world-class U.S. companies made to exploring collaboration opportunities on both social and economic development priorities. The promise of this new era is huge and we all share the same goal to move quickly to realize it,” said USAID Chief Innovation Officer Maura O'Neill in a release. Shortly after the 2011 reforms, companies such as Proximity Designs also began to target American consumers.
[Image: Flickr user Druidabruxux]
Clarification: An earlier version of this article did not include Intel's participation in the Myanmar visit.