I. Introduction and summary
On 16March 2022, the Swiss Federal Council, in view of Belarus’ involvement in Russia’s warfare in Ukraine, decided to adopt in full the extended sanctions against Belarus introduced by the EU on 2 and 9 March 2022. For this purpose, the Swiss Federal Council has approved the complete revision of the Ordinance on Measures against Belarus, which entered into force on 16 March 2022, at noon(the “Ordinance“). The newly adopted measures are in line with the existing measures introduced against Russia in the past weeks and, in brief, include:
- Expansion of the Designated Parties List (resulting in asset freezes and travel restrictions);
- Further restrictions on dual-use and high-tech goods exports to Belarus;
- Prohibitions on the supply of various types of machinery to Belarus;
- Enhancement of the existing tobacco sector restrictions;
- Procurement restrictions on wood, cement, iron and steel, and rubber originating from Belarus; and
- Introduction of numerous financial sanctions in line with those imposed against Russia.
The newly introduced sanctions include the following measures:
II. Export Bans
As a general principle, where a prohibition on the supply of items has been imposed or extended, the provision of brokering services, technical assistance, financing, and financial assistance for the restricted items has been prohibited as well. The following is subject to the export ban:
Dual use and high-tech items
The new measures now prohibit the export of all dual-use items to Belarus regardless of their end-use or end-users, as listed in Annex 2 of the Swiss Goods Controls Ordinance. In addition, the export of goods that could contribute to Belarus’s military and technological enhancement or the development of the defense and security sector as listed in Annex 3 of the Ordinance is prohibited. A list of exemptions, for example including humanitarian or medical purposes, as well as the possibility for SECO to grant further exemptions has also been introduced.
A wide variety of machinery, as listed in Annex 4 of the Ordinance (items listed in chapters 84 and 85 of the customs tariff), is prohibited for supply to Belarus. The restrictions, however, are subject to various exceptions, broadly aligned with the exceptions applicable to dual-use and high-tech items.
The existing list of goods restricted due to their potential use in the Belarusian tobacco sector has been widened to include knives and other blades for machines and other mechanical appliances.
III. Import Bans
The new measures further include an extension of the existing import bans (procurement restrictions) with the following new elements added:
- Petroleum and petroleum products listed in Annex 7 (items listed in chapter 27 of the customs tariff);
- Potassium chloride products listed in Annex 8 (items listed in chapter 31 of the customs tariff);
- Wood and charcoal products listed in Annex 9 (items listed in chapter 44 of the customs tariff);
- Cement and cement products listed in Annex 10 (items listed under headings 2523 and 6810 of the customs tariff);
- Iron and steel products listed in Annex 11 (items listed in chapters 72 and 73 of the customs tariff);
- Products made of rubber listed in Annex 12 (items listed under heading 4011 of the customs tariff).
It is prohibited to:
- import these items to Switzerland if the items originate, or have been exported from, Belarus;
- purchase these items if the items are located in or originate from Belarus; and
- transport these items if the items originate, or are being exported, from Belarus (regardless of the destination).
As with the other restrictions above, the provision of related technical assistance, brokering, financing and financial assistance (including insurance) for these activities is also prohibited. The Ordinance stipulates certain exceptions for the purchasing of petroleum and petroleum products.
IV. Financial sanctions
The Ordinance further introduces financial sanctions (i.e., restrictions on the financial sector) which prohibit the following activities (subject to limited exceptions and carve-outs), including:
- Provision of public financing or financial assistance for trade with, or investment in, Belarus;
- Transactions related to the management of reserves as well as assets of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus, including transactions with banks, companies or organisations acting on behalf of or on the instructions of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus;
- Acceptance of deposits exceeding EUR 100,000 from Belarusian nationals, residents, legal persons, entities or bodies established in Belarus;
- Provision of various services by Swiss central securities depositories for transferable securities issued after 12 April 2022 to Belarusian nationals or residents or legal persons, entities or bodies established in Belarus;
- Sale of Swiss Franc or Euro denominated transferable securities issued after 12 April 2022 or certain units to Belarusian nationals or residents or legal persons, entities or bodies established in Belarus;
- Sale, supply, transfer or export of Swiss Franc or Euro denominated banknotes to Belarus, a person in Belarus, or for use in Belarus.
In addition, the Ordinance includes the following measures:
- The existing restriction on dealings involving financial instruments as well as the granting of loans have been extended and now include Bank Dabrabyt, Belagropombank, Belarusbank, Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus and Belinvestbank;
- Any existing deposits as described above must be reported to SECO;
- Belagropombank, Bank Dabrabyt and Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus are to be excluded from SWIFT.
V. Other Sanctions
Designated Parties: the Swiss Federal Council has decided to extend the Designated Party List by adding the individuals and entities already on the list of designated parties adopted by the EU to Annex 13 of the Ordinance. As a consequence, the assets of such Designated Parties and indirectly sanctioned parties must be frozen and they are henceforth subject to a trading ban; the individuals added to the Designated Party List are also subject to an entry ban.
Air traffic: Aircrafts of Belarusian air carriers with an operating license or equivalent authorization from the Belarusian authorities are prohibited from landing or taking off at Swiss airports, with licensing exceptions for flights for humanitarian, medical or diplomatic purposes.
Extension of the list of Designated Parties
On 16 March 2022, the Federal Council approved the sanctioning of more than 200 additional individuals and entities as a consequence of the fundamental violations of international law by Russia in Ukraine. The extension of the sanctions regime include 197 individuals, which are now subject to the financial sanctions and travel restrictions, as well as 9 companies, which are now subject to the financial sanctions. The individuals added to the list of Designated Parties include further oligarchs and prominent businesspeople.
Switzerland’s sanctions list as per Annex 8 of the Ordinance on Measures connected with the Situation in Ukraine now fully mirrors the list issued by the EU so far. The extensions entered into force on 16 March 2022, at noon.