The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has issued a six-month general license that responds to reports of unintended interruptions of trade with Burma due to concerns that key Burmese port facilities are controlled by entities subject to U.S. sanctions. The State Department notes that this license is temporary (though it may be extended) and does not signal a change in U.S. sanctions policy toward Burma.
Effective Dec. 7 through June 7, 2016, GL 20 allows individuals, companies and financial institutions to conduct most transactions otherwise prohibited by the Burma Sanctions Regulations that are ordinarily incident to the export of goods, technology or non-financial services to or from Burma, including participating in trade finance transactions and paying port fees as well as shipping and handling charges associated with sending goods to or from Burma. Previously such exports may have been subject to U.S. sanctions if they transited critical Burmese infrastructure, such as ports, toll roads or airports, in a way that involved ordinarily incident transactions in which a specially designated national, or any other person whose property or interests in property are blocked pursuant to the BSR, had an interest. This general license also authorizes U.S. financial institutions to unblock and return transactions blocked on or after April 1, 2015, that would have qualified as authorized had they been engaged in pursuant to the authorization in the general license.
A Treasury press release states that GL 20 does not authorize any transactions to, from or on behalf of an SDN or any other person whose property or interests in property are blocked, including any entity in which SDNs own, whether individually or in the aggregate, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest. For example, GL 20 does not authorize new investment with an SDN, including the expansion of or upgrades to transportation facilities.
GL 20 also does not authorize a U.S. financial institution to advise or confirm any financing by SDNs or blocked persons, nor does it impact other prohibitions in the BSR. The ban on new investment involving the Ministry of Defense, state or non-state armed groups, any entity in which any of the foregoing own a 50 percent or greater interest, and SDNs or other blocked persons remains fully in effect, as does the prohibition on U.S. imports of Burmese-origin jadeite, rubies and jewelry containing them.