On January 10, 2020, the US Department of
Transportation (“DOT”) issued an order
imposing new restrictions on public charter flights from the United States to
Cuba. While certain US
restrictions on Cuba, including for travel, were relaxed under President Obama,
the Trump Administration has gradually rolled back some of these changes and
further tightened US travel restrictions vis-à-vis Cuba.
On November 26, 2019, the US Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) issued a highly anticipated proposed rule with proposed regulations (“Proposed Regulations”) to implement Executive Order 13873, “Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain” (“Executive Order 13873“).
Executive Order 13873 gives the Secretary of Commerce (“Secretary”) sweeping, unprecedented authority to prevent or modify transactions involving information and communications technology and services (“ICTS”) originating in countries designated as “foreign adversaries” which pose an undue risk to critical infrastructure or the digital economy in the United States, or an unacceptable risk to US national security or the safety of United States persons. All industries are potentially affected by the Proposed Regulations, whether directly or indirectly, which allow for case-by-case reviews of transactions at the Secretary’s discretion. Any transaction that is ongoing as of, or was initiated on or after, May 15, 2019, can be reviewed and there is no mechanism by which a company may seek to clear transactions in advance.
A summary of the background and the Proposed Regulations is provided below:
On 14 October, the United States and European Union each adopted sanctions measures targeting Turkey, in response to Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria. Subject to certain exceptions discussed further below, the US measures under a new Syria-related Executive Order (“New Syria EO“) took effect immediately and authorize sanctions targeting parties engaging in certain Syria-related activities, the Government of Turkey and Turkish Government officials, and certain sectors of the Turkish economy.
The EU measures are expected to come into effect shortly.
On September 9, 2019, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued Executive Order 13886 (“EO 13886”), expanding the US counter-terrorism sanctions program by amending Executive Order 13224 (“EO 13224”), which dates to the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. OFAC also designated 28 individuals and entities as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (“SDGTs”) under this new authority and updated various other entries on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List to reflect sanction of those authorities under the same authority. In addition, as described in statements here and here, the State Department implemented the new authority by designating Hurras al-Din, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Syria, and 12 leaders of SDGT groups (all of which were designated by OFAC on the same day).