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The U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security is responsible for enforcing (and administering) antiboycott laws. According to the BIS website, “The antiboycott laws were adopted to encourage, and in specific cases, require U.S. firms to refuse to participate in foreign boycotts that the United States does not Sanction. They have the effect of preventing U.S. firms from being used to implement foreign policies of other nations which run counter to U.S. policy.”


Per the BIS website, it is important to note that the Arab League boycott of Israel is the boycott that U.S. Companies should be most concerned with today, although the laws apply to all boycotts imposed by foreign nations that are not sanctioned by the U.S.


BIS website provides clarity to define “who” is covered by these laws. Here they are in bullet point format:

- U.S. Persons in the interstate or foreign commerce of the United States.

- U.S. Persons includes all individuals, corporations and unincorporated associations resident in the United States including the permanent domestic affiliates of foreign concerns

- U.S. Persons also includes U.S. citizens abroad (except when they reside abroad and are employed by non-U.S. persons) and the controlled in fact affiliates of domestic concerns.


Further, the BIS website provides a summary of prohibitions under the laws. Here are some actions that can be penalized in bullet point format:

- Agreements to refuse or actual refusal to do business with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies.

- Agreements to discriminate or actual discrimination against other persons based on race, religion, sex, national origin or nationality.

- Agreements to furnish or actual furnishing of information about business relationships with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies.

- Agreements to furnish or actual furnishing of information about race, religion, sex, or national origin of another person.

- Implementing letters of credit containing prohibited boycott terms or conditions.


What can we all do to comply? According to the BIS website, U.S. persons must report requests they have received to take actions to comply with, further, or support an unsanctioned foreign boycott. This of course means that U.S. persons engaged as described above must be informed!


The criminal penalties for noncompliance of these laws can be substantial. Criminal penalties are imposed for “each ‘knowing’ violations.” The fine can be “up to $50,000.00 or five times the value of the exports involved, whichever is greater, and imprisonment of up to five years.” Criminal penalties can be even greater when Executive Orders are issued pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.


Administrative penalties may be “any or all of the following”:

- General denial of export privileges;

- The imposition of fines of up to $11,000 per violation; and/or

- Exclusion from practice


Antiboycott laws can be catastrophic to U.S. persons as described above. It is important to be aware and have a plan. Need more help on antiboycott topics? Contact the JAS Forwarding USA Inc. Compliance Team today!


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