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Export Controls and Trade Sanctions Compliance

The United States government enforces multiple regulatory regimes that strictly regulate the export of services, technology and products manufactured or designed in, transshipped through, or augmented in the United States. These laws are expansively applied—including, for example, application to foreign affiliates and subsidiaries of U.S. companies and to foreign nationals employed by U.S. companies, whether in the U.S. or abroad. Violations of these laws — which are enforced principally by the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Commerce and the Department of State, as well as other agencies such as the SEC — can result in significant fines, imprisonment and foreclosure from foreign markets. In recent years, with the enhanced importance of the government’s war on terrorism and greater reliance on international sanctions, rigorous enforcement of U.S. export controls makes compliance with these regulations more important than ever.

Davis Wright Tremaine assists clients with a broad range of export control issues. We counsel clients on export issues raised by particular products and services — ranging from common items of commerce to encrypted software applications — as well as on overall compliance with the regulations, including implementation of compliance programs and identification of “red flag” factors that may trigger a government enforcement action. Our clients include companies in a wide range of industrial sectors that manufacture, develop or provide a diverse array of products, technologies and services including, for example, communications and computer hardware and software, energy, manufacturing, chemicals, medical technology, and high-tech materials.

Davis Wright Tremaine attorneys regularly advise clients on:

  • U.S. restrictions on exporting everything from common commercial items to software with encryption features and cutting-edge technology
  • The economic and trade sanctions enforced by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which are wide-ranging in scope and impact many financial transactions, foreign investments and other business dealings, including obtaining export licenses to countries subject to trading-with-the-enemy sanctions and related country-specific embargoes enforced by OFAC
  • The Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which are enforced by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and generally regulate the export of dual-use (civilian and military) products and technologies, including assisting clients in classifying their products under the Commerce Control List (CCL) and determining if an export license is required or other export restriction applies
  • The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which are administered by the Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) and regulate the export and temporary import of defense articles and defense services covered by the U. S. Munitions List (USML), including assisting clients with specific export issues and general compliance with the ITAR regulatory regime
  • Export compliance due diligence in connection with companies’ periodic review of internal controls regarding export matters, or in preparation for mergers or acquisitions involving businesses with export activities
  • Notifications to, and investigations by, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews, and can challenge, investments by foreign persons in U.S. businesses
  • International restrictions on the use and import of products, including advice on license requirements in Europe, Turkey and the Middle East for encryption products, communications equipment and electronic surveillance technologies

Given the importance of having unimpaired access to foreign markets and avoiding severe civil and criminal penalties for violation of U.S. export control laws, companies engaged in export activities, and their executive management, cannot afford to be uninformed about, or lax in complying with, these regulations. Our attorneys would be pleased to assist you in navigating your way safely through these complex issues.