On October 6, 2017, the US Government announced that it will revoke certain sanctions with respect to Sudan and the Government of Sudan, effective October 12, 2017. As a result of the revocation, US Persons will no longer be prohibited from engaging in Sudan-related transactions that were previously prohibited under the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations (“SSR”), including dealings with the Government of Sudan, and the SSR will be removed from the US Code of Federal Regulations.
In a continuing effort to pressure and isolate North Korea by targeting entities and individuals in third countries, on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and US Justice Department (“DOJ”) announced sanctions and a civil forfeiture action, respectively, targeting Chinese and Russian entities accused of directly or indirectly assisting or supporting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. China is North Korea’s primary trading partner and these actions appear to be an effort, in part, to ramp up pressure on China to assist in curtailing its neighbor’s nuclear ambitions.
Ending several weeks of speculation about a shift in US policy towards Cuba, on June 16, 2017, President Trump announced changes reversing some of the steps undertaken by the Obama administration to ease the decades-long US embargo of that country. He has directed US government agencies, including the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), which is responsible for the administration of the US sanctions against Cuba, to “initiate a process to adjust” their respective regulations within 30 days to implement the changes. Importantly, FAQs issued by OFAC clarify that the 30-day deadline is only to begin the process of amending the regulations and that the announced changes will not take effect until new or amended regulations are issued. Otherwise, no deadline for when the regulations must be amended is specified and OFAC states only that it “expects to issue its regulatory amendments in the coming months.”
On April 18, 2017, the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) issued a final rule revising the Entity List entry for the Russian Federal Security Service (“FSB”), Russia’s principal security agency, in order to permit certain exports, reexports, and in-country transfers to the FSB without a BIS license in conformance with Cyber-related General License No. 1 (“General License No. 1”), which was issued by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) on February 2, 2017. Today’s change by BIS should further alleviate concerns of US technology companies that need to deal with the FSB in its regulatory role in approving the import, distribution, and use of encryption products in Russia.