8. When is carrying on business in a foreign country prohibited under US Law?
Embargoes are prohibitions against carrying on business transactions with certain countries. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a division of the US Department of Treasury, is charged with carrying out embargoes and “targeted sanctions” against countries. Targeted sanctions are restrictions on business relations with a country that falls short of a total embargo. OFAC may designate persons or companies as “specially designated nationals” (SDNs). These individuals or companies are treated with the same restrictions as the country to which they are designated. This keeps US citizens or businesses from using intermediaries to carry on business with a company subject to embargo. In order to carry on business with individuals from these countries (or purchase goods or services derived from these countries), the US company must request a license from OFAC.
• Note: Many western nations, including the United States, were previously members of the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls. This committee sought to control global exports among member countries. It was dissolved in 1994.
• Example: The US currently has embargoes against Iran, Cuba, and the Sudan. The long-standing embargo against Cuba is the subject of controversy. The US has targeted sanctions against Syria and North Korea.
• Discussion: Why do you think the US issues embargoes against certain countries? Should diplomatic objectives be balanced against economic prosperity? Why or why not?
• Practice Question: ABC Corp regularly does business with 123 Corp. ABC recently learned that 123 is categorized by the US government as a specially designated national. What will this mean for ABC?