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December 2016


2017 Key Trade Issues: U.S. Embargoes and Economic Sanctions on Iran, Russia & Cuba






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, please contact one of our International or Corporate and Transactional professionals.


Melissa Miller Proctor



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What will the Trump Administration mean for U.S. international trade policy in 2017, including potential challenges and opportunities for U.S. importers and exporters? Currently, the various U.S. embargoes and economic sanctions programs target countries such as Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, as well as certain individuals, entities and industry sectors in order further certain national security and foreign policy objectives.

During the last eight years, the Obama Administration introduced sanctions on the Russian energy and defense industry sectors, lifted the U.S. nuclear sanctions on Iran under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and began normalization of relations with Cuba after more than 50 years of sanctions. During his presidential campaign, President-Elect Trump stated that he intended to renegotiate the JCPOA and possibly rescind the recent liberalization of trade and travel with Cuba. He also expressed his doubts as to the effectiveness of the sectoral sanctions levied against Russia.

The following provides an analysis of the current sanctions on Iran, Russia and Cuba, as well as the authority under which the Trump Administration may opt to effect change with respect to these programs.

The Lifting of Nuclear-Related Sanctions on Iran

In November 2013, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany (i.e., the "P5+1 Countries") reached an understanding with Iran to suspend certain nuclear-related sanctions in return for Iran's commitment to limit its nuclear program. Accordingly, as a result of Iran's commitments, restrictions on non-US person transactions with Iran involving petrochemical products, the automobile industry, sales of gold and precious metals, and exports of Iranian crude oil to China, India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Taiwan were lifted. In addition, U.S. persons were allowed to obtain Specific Licenses from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to supply spare parts to Iran in support of the safe operation of civil aircraft. Subsequently, in the summer of 2015, the P5+1 agreed to provide additional economic sanctions relief to Iran, which became known as the JCPOA. The JCPOA required Iran to take certain additional steps with regard to its nuclear program. Upon verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran had in fact taken these steps, the P5+1 agreed to the immediate lifting of additional sanctions.  In January of 2016, the IAEA verified Iran's compliance with its nuclear program-related obligations, and the United States began allowing non-U.S. persons to engage in: [More...]

U.S. Sanctions on Russia

Beginning in 2013, in response to Russia's annexation of the Crimea Region, the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions against certain entities and individuals in the Ukraine and Russia. The United States prohibited U.S. persons from dealing with individuals and entities who were undermining democracy in the Ukraine, threatening the sovereignty of the Ukraine, and/or misappropriating Ukrainian assets. Those parties were added to OFAC's SDN Lists and the Bureau of Industry and Security's (BIS) Entity List. In addition, U.S. persons were prohibited from: [More...]

U.S. Embargo on Cuba

In December 2014, President Obama announced that the United States would initiate diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba for the first time in over fifty years. This announcement was followed by a series of amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and the EAR with respect to the lifting of certain travel and trade restrictions involving Cuba. Cuba was also removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and the U.S. embassy in Havana was formally reopened. Additional changes were made to the U.S. sanctions on Cuba over the course of the last two years. For example: [More...]

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For More Information

Stay tuned for our next article. If you have any questions pertaining to the current U.S. FTAs or other international trade issues, please feel free to contact a member of Polsinelli's International Attorneys.

For more information about this alert, please contact a member of Polsinelli's Corporate and Transactional practice, or your Polsinelli attorney.


1Trade Act of 1974, as amended (Public Law 93–618, as amended; 19 U.S.C. Section 12).

2The TPA was extended by Congress in the Omnibus Trade Act of 1988, TPA Act of 2002, and Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2016.

3 Goods would be "originating" and therefore eligible for preferential tariff treatment under the TPP if they are: (a) wholly obtained or produced entirely in the TPP territory; (b) produced entirely from TPP-originating materials; or, (c) in full compliance with product-specific rules of origin. The TPP also provides a de minimis rule that would allow imported products containing non-originating materials to qualify for the TPP—even if they don't otherwise satisfy the agreement's product-specific rules of origin. Originating goods would also be required to be shipped directly from one member country to another without passing through the territory of a non-party in order to qualify for the TPP.











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