President Joseph Biden formally announced via Executive Order that the following Russian-origin goods will no longer be permitted importation into the U.S. customs territory:
- Fish, seafood, and preparations thereof;
- Alcoholic beverages;
- Non-industrial diamonds; and
- Any other products of Russian Federation-origin as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Commerce.
The prohibition takes immediate effect, except that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued a General License providing that all such prohibited transactions ordinarily incident and necessary for the importation of these goods into the United States pursuant to written contracts or agreements entered into prior to March 11, 2022 are authorized through 12:01 am (EDT), March 25, 2022.
MARCH 24, 2022 UPDATE: For Russian-origin fish, seafood and preparations thereof, OFAC amended the General License to extend the authorization granted to such transactions through 12:01 am (EDT), June 23, 2022.
Today’s announcement is an expansion of the import ban announced earlier this week by the Biden Administration and implemented by Executive Order 14066 (Mar. 8, 2022) in which the United States prohibited the importation of certain Russian-origin energy products, including crude oil, petroleum, petroleum fuels, oils and products of their distillation, liquidized natural gas, coal and coal products. This move by the U.S. Government is among a number of actions taken to escalate efforts to apply pressure on the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to its recent military aggression in the sovereign state of Ukraine. The trade community awaits formal publication of today’s executive order and further instruction from the U.S. Government regarding the implementation of this import ban. Today’s Executive Order authorizes the promulgation of rules and regulations to carry out the purposes of the Order. Crowell and Moring LLP (Crowell) is monitoring this space closely to provide specific guidance to clients with exposure to this type of government action.
In another move to leverage trade power over the Putin regime, today the Group of Seven (G7) also announced its intent to strip Russia of its Permanent Normal Trade Relations status for key products. WTO members generally commit to treating other members equally in connection with trade barriers, e.g., tariffs, for goods and services. This treatment is known as “Most-Favored Nation” (MFN) treatment. To strip Russia of its normal trade relations status would be to revoke MFN treatment, which opens the door to tariffs on Russian goods imported into individual countries. The G7 forecasted a statement by a broad coalition of WTO members, including the G7, to collectively revoke Russia’s MFN status. The Biden Administration also expressed its intent to work closely with Congress to deny Russia MFN treatment. Crowell is tracking any develops in the revocation of Russian MFN status and any subsequent tariff actions by individual countries.
Takeaways for Importers:
- Assess the exposure of your company’s U.S. import profile to the Russian-origin goods covered by the import ban, including not only energy products, but also now numerous consumer goods.
- Assess your Company’s trade exposure more broadly to Russian-origin goods shipped globally, in the event that individual countries revoke Russia’s MFN status and elect to apply tariffs.