Last month, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) amended the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to reflect the removal of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from the list of countries participating in the Arab League Boycott of Israel. The final rule deems certain requests for information, actions or agreements made before August 16,2020 which were presumed to be boycott-related exempt from reporting requirements under the EAR.
The U.S. Department of Treasury removed the UAE in April of this year, so while this is not new information, BIS has made the removal an official part of the EAR. The formal removal by the Department of Treasury was the result of Israel and UAE’s agreement to the Abraham Accords. UAE then issued a decree abolishing the boycott law which targeted Israel.
With this amendment, it’s a good time to review what the EAR says about the anti-boycott requirements and what your company needs to do to comply.
What are the Anti-Boycott Laws?
The Office of Antiboycott Compliance (OAC) administers and enforces the anti-boycott laws which were adopted to encourage, and in specified cases, require U.S. firms to refuse to participate in foreign boycotts that the United States does not sanction. They have the effect of preventing U.S. firms from being used to implement foreign policies of other nations that run counter to U.S. policy.
The Antiboycott laws apply to all boycotts imposed by foreign countries that are unsanctioned by the United States, however, the Arab League boycott of Israel is the principal foreign economic boycott that U.S. companies must be concerned with today. The anti-boycott laws are applicable to all U.S. Persons both inside and outside of the United States.
The Department of Treasury regularly publishes the current list of countries participating in this boycott in the Federal Register. Currently, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen participate in this particular boycott.
What Should my Company be Doing about these Laws?
According to the anti-boycott regulations, U.S. companies may not comply with, further, or support an unsanctioned foreign boycott. This includes:
- Agreements to refuse or actual refusal to do business with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies.
- Agreements to discriminate or actual discrimination against other persons based on race, religion, sex, national origin or nationality.
- Agreements to furnish or actual furnishing of information about business relationships with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies.
- Agreements to furnish or actual furnishing of information about the race, religion, sex, or national origin of another person.
- Implementing letters of credit containing prohibited boycott terms or conditions
Requests often come in different forms and on various types of documentation. Examples of requests can be found on BIS’s webpage. Here are three practical things your company should be doing to comply with anti-boycott regulations:
3 “R’s” Your Company Should Follow for Anti-Boycott Compliance:
- Review: It is crucial that employees reviewing contracts and associated documentation are knowledgeable on restrictive trade practices, such as boycotts. Thorough reviews should be conducted particularly when it comes to contracts, purchase orders, letters of credit, and other shipping documentation. They should know how to screen for a boycott request and know what to do if they receive one. Such roles include sales, sales admin, and order entry, however, this differs from company to company. Additionally, having written processes in place is a crucial step to ensuring compliance with anti-boycott regulations. Some wording may be obvious, but some may be confusing or buried in a contract or conditions. It is important to conduct thorough reviews.
Here are a few examples of some wording that an exporter may encounter:
- “The seller shall not supply goods or materials that have been manufactured or processed in Israel nor shall the services of any Israeli organization be used in handling of transporting the goods or materials.”
- “We certify that neither the beneficiaries nor the suppliers of goods and services are subject to boycott.”
- “Quotation should not include items manufactured by firms who are under Israeli Boycott list.”
- “Invoices must be endorsed with a certificate of origin that goods are not of Israeli origin and do not contain any Israeli material and are not shipped from any Israeli port.
- Report: The bottom line is that if your company receives a boycott request, you must report it. The EAR requires U.S. persons to report requests they have received to take certain actions to comply with, further, or support an unsanctioned foreign boycott even if they have not complied with it. Reports must be filed quarterly. Reporting requirements apply to all U.S. persons, regardless of the person’s role in the transaction. Additionally, the requirements also apply to U.S. persons located outside of the United States if the request is received in connection with a transaction or activity in the interstate or foreign commerce of the United States. Reports can be submitted either electronically on the BIS website or via snail mail. Requests received within the United States much be submitted to the Department of Commerce no later than one month following the end of the quarter in which the request was received. Requests made outside of the United States have two months after the end of the quarter to report. Failure to report boycott requests can result in a violations.
- Retain: Recordkeeping is a vital aspect of compliance. Any documentation related to a boycott or restrictive trade practice request should be retained in accordance with the anti-boycott regulations. Records relating to boycott requests must be kept for five years after the receipt of a request and must be available, as requested, by U.S. governmental authorities. Records include printed and hard copy documents, as well as electronic records (including e-mail, e-mail attachments and other electronic files).
Keep in mind there are exceptions to the anti-boycott prohibitions, as well as many other factors to review prior to deciding if your company needs to report an issue. It is important to review the regulations fully to ensure you are in compliance. Penalties for violating reporting requirements include civil and criminal penalties, including fines, loss of export privileges and even imprisonment. The government takes these regulations seriously and so should you.
If you need assistance with the anti-boycott regulations or any other area pertaining to export compliance, please contact ESI for a free consultation.
Emmalie Armstrong is a Trade Compliance Consultant with Export Solutions – a firm specializing in U.S. import/export regulations.