President Obama Lifts 20-Year Sudan Embargo

January 18, 2017

On January 13, 2017, the Obama Administration signed Executive Order 13761, ending the 20-year embargo on Sudan. Citing “Sudan’s positive actions over the past 6 months,” the executive order provides for revocation of the previous executive orders which prohibited most transactions in Sudan by July 12, 2017, provided that the administration determines that the Sudanese government has sustained its positive actions. This action follows in the wake of the easing of the Cuba embargo, the lifting of sanctions on Burma, and last year’s easing of nuclear sanctions on Iran. 

To implement the executive order, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will amend the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations to authorize most transactions that were previously prohibited. This amendment will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register. As a result, US companies will generally be authorized to transact with individuals and entities in Sudan, including Sudan’s petroleum and petrochemical industries. All blocked property and interests in property of the Government of Sudan will be unblocked.

There are still some restrictions on US companies doing business with Sudan. Some Sudanese individuals and entities continue to be subject to targeted sanctions and remain on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List. Transactions with listed persons remain prohibited, and US companies accordingly should continue to screen their customers against that list. As well, Sudan continues to be designated a state sponsor of terrorism and is subject to stricter export control measures as a result. US companies exporting US-origin goods to Sudan will also need to ensure compliance with the Export Administration Regulations.

To date, the President-elect has not made any public statements about the lifting of Sudan-related sanctions, and it is thus unclear whether the new Administration will act consistently with President Obama’s recent action. The permanent lifting of the Sudan sanctions is contingent on the Government of Sudan continuing its positive actions, and under the terms of the new executive order, a decision on a permanent lifting of the sanctions will be made by the Trump Administration on July 12, 2017.

This memorandum is a summary for general information and discussion only and may be considered an advertisement for certain purposes. It is not a full analysis of the matters presented, may not be relied upon as legal advice, and does not purport to represent the views of our clients or the Firm. Greta Lichtenbaum, an O'Melveny partner licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia, and McAllister Jimbo, an O’Melveny associate licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and California, contributed to the content of this newsletter. The views expressed in this newsletter are the views of the authors except as otherwise noted. 

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