On February 22, 2012, the Office of Foreign Assets Control
General License No. 15 for the Syria sanctions President Obama
implemented in August.
Executive Order No. 13582 blocked property of the Syrian
government and prohibited certain transactions with respect to
Syria, expanding on executive orders and sanctions that were
previously issued by the Bush II Administration. The Bush
Administration sanctions primarily applied to exports or reexports
of U.S. origin goods or goods containing more than a de
minimis U.S. content. The current Administration's
sanctions apply to a much wider scope of goods and services.
To date, however, the Administration has not implemented any
regulations relating to the Syrian sanctions, so U.S. persons have
been unsure as to how broadly the new sanctions would apply.
Therefore, most exporters have taken a conservative stance and
presumed they cannot transact any business with Syria, directly or
indirectly, similar to other sanctions programs, like those against
Similar to the other sanctions programs, OFAC has issued a
series of general licenses for certain services and transactions
relating to Syria. These general licenses range from diplomatic
activities to noncommercial remittances. The newest general license
for Syria allows certain transactions relating to patents,
trademarks, and copyrights. It allows companies to pay fees to the
Syrian government to maintain their IP licenses and mirrors the
General Licenses in place in other sanctions programs.
It is important to understand the distinction between general
licenses and specific licenses issued by OFAC. A general license is
an open authorization for U.S. persons to engage in activity that
would otherwise be prohibited by sanctions. It is not an exemption
because it can be revoked at any time by OFAC. Specific licenses
are authorizations granted on a case-by-case basis after a party
applies for them.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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