First, on April 16, the Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published a 10-page fact sheet of guidance on the humanitarian assistance and trade authorized under U.S. sanctions programs concerning Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Syria, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. The fact sheet also outlines specific guidance for OFAC-administered sanctions programs related to personal protective equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19-related humanitarian assistance and trade.
The fact sheet generally does not make substantive changes to U.S. sanctions programs but rather highlights and clarifies existing exemptions, exceptions and authorizations related to humanitarian assistance and trade. In particular:
- OFAC emphasized that under certain circumstances, U.S. and non-U.S. persons are authorized to ship certain humanitarian goods, including medicines and medical devices, to sanctioned countries without OFAC approval.
- OFAC further confirmed that businesses in Iran manufacturing certain medical products for use in Iran would not be considered as operating in the manufacturing sector of the Iranian economy for purposes of secondary sanctions.1
- OFAC will prioritize and expedite its review of COVID-19-related license requests pertaining to such restricted equipment as oxygen generators, full-face mask respirators and certain decontamination equipment that requires additional OFAC approval.
Second, on April 20, OFAC issued a notice encouraging persons affected by the pandemic to contact OFAC if they believe they may experience delays in their ability to meet deadlines associated with regulatory requirements administered by OFAC.2
Importantly, sanctions laws and regulations governing shipments of medicine, certain medical devices and other humanitarian assistance to sanctioned countries are fact-specific and vary widely depending on the sanctions program. Persons interested in engaging in humanitarian trade with sanctioned countries should ensure that they carefully review and comply with the relevant license terms and authorizations, including any recordkeeping and reporting requirements. More generally, they should ensure they have robust sanctions and export controls compliance policies and procedures. Interested persons should also review other applicable regulations governing trade in humanitarian goods, including any applicable export controls administered by the Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security and export restrictions on exports of PPE administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Please refer to our previous Sidley Update for these restrictions.
1See Executive Order 13902, “Imposing Sanctions With Respect to Additional Sectors of Iran,” (Jan. 10, 2020).
2See https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20200420.aspx. Such deadlines might include those related to filing blocking and rejected transaction reports, responses to administrative subpoenas issued by OFAC or reports required by general or specific licenses.