US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that Washington's decision to maintain sanctions on Myanmar will help strengthen reforms in the south-east Asian country that started moving away from direct military rule and isolation in 2011.

The administration of President Barack Obama eased sanctions on Myanmar this week after the first civilian-led government in more than five decades took power, following the landslide victory of Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party in elections last year.

The Treasury Department removed seven state-owned companies and three state-owned banks from its sanctions list. It also expanded licensing to make it easier for US citizens to live in Myanmar and to enable economic activity.

The department added other companies to the list, however. They included six companies owned 50-per-cent or more by Steven Law, a tycoon and son of notorious drug lord Lo Hsing Han, or his Asia World Co Ltd.

In addition, the US continues to ban the import of jade and rubies from Myanmar.

US sanctions are still needed to promote the further reform process in Myanmar, John Kerry said.

"The lifting of the sanctions is really up to the progress that is continuing within Myanmar," he said.

Kerry also said it would be difficult for Myanmar, with its current military veto on any major constitutional amendment, to complete the journey to democracy.

"It is impossible to complete that journey with the current constitution," he said.

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