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Bart M. McMillan

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On February 24, 2020, in a final rule (the “Rule”) that took immediate effect, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) revised the country group designations for Russia and Yemen under the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”), increasing license restrictions for both countries. The Rule is part of a larger effort within BIS that involves a “comprehensive review” of all country groups to ensure they appropriately reflect current US national security and foreign policy.…

On December 11, 2019, the US State Department announced the designations of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (“IRISL”), its China-based subsidiary, E-Sail Shipping Company Ltd (“E-Sail”), and Mahan Air, a privately-owned airline based in Tehran, under Executive Order 13382 (“E.O. 13382”), for their involvement in the transporting of weapons of mass destruction (“WMD”).  All three entities had previously been designated to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (“SDN List”) administered by US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”). OFAC will implement the new designations by adding the [NPWMD] and [IFSR] tags to the SDN List entries of IRISL and E-Sail effective June 8, 2020. OFAC updated the Mahan Air entry effective immediately. OFAC published two related Frequently Asked Questions, FAQs 810 and 811.

On October 21, 2019, the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) amended the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) to further restrict exports and reexports of items to Cuba (“the Amendment“).  According to BIS, the Amendment was made to further restrict the Cuban government’s access to items subject to the EAR, thereby supporting the US government’s national security and foreign policy decision to hold the Cuban regime accountable for its repression of the Cuban people and its continuing support for the Maduro regime in Venezuela.  The Amendment further implements President Trump’s June 2017 National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba.  BIS also updated Frequently Asked Questions regarding Cuba, and the US Commerce Department issued a related press release here.

The same week, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo wrote to the Secretary of Transportation noting the Administration’s policy and requested that the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) suspend all scheduled US carrier flights between the United States and all airports in Cuba, except José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Havana.  DOT issued an order suspending service on October 25, 2019.  US air carriers have 45 days to discontinue all scheduled air service between the United States and all airports in Cuba, except José Martí International Airport.  Please see here for the State Department’s press release.

A summary of specific changes/clarifications made by the Amendment are described below:

On September 6, 2019, the US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) announced that it is amending the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (“CACR”) to further financially isolate the Cuban government and implement President Trump’s June 2017 National Security Presidential Memorandum (“NSPM”) Strengthening the Policy of the United States Towards Cuba (the “CACR Amendment”). The CACR Amendment (1) removes the authorization for banks subject to US jurisdiction to process pass-through or “U-turn” transactions, and (2) eliminates or restricts certain types of remittances to Cuba. The CACR Amendment was published in the Federal Register on September 9, 2019, and will take effect on October 9, 2019.

OFAC also published Frequently Asked Questions and a Fact Sheet on the CACR Amendment.