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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance


U.S. Antiboycott Laws: They're Not for Everyone (But They May Be for You)

9 May 2019

Honestly, it is understandable if companies may have missed that the recently-passed Export Control Reform Act ("ECRA") included permanent statutory authority for the Antiboycott Regulations ("ABR"). These regulations, codified in Part II of ECRA as of 13 August 2018, prohibit US companies from complying with some aspects of other countries' boycotts that the United States does not support.

However, aside from adding an unnecessary hyphen to "Antiboycott" in the title and raising the penalties for violations to USD 300,000, the Anti-Boycott Act of 2018, does nothing to expand, narrow, or clarify coverage of the ABR. Historically and to this day, the ABR have only been applied to the Arab League boycott of Israel, to US persons and entities, and transactions in US commerce.

And yet, despite this seemingly narrow scope, antiboycott restrictions can ensnare unsuspecting companies who do not understand their particular nuances and global reach. Every year, there are non-US branches of US companies, shipping companies, and banks that are charged with violating the ABR. Fortunately, the agency that enforces this law and regulations, the Office of Antiboycott Compliance ("OAC"), within the Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security, continuously monitors its advice line to help companies deal with the 84-pages of complex regulations.

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