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NEWS RELEASE 98-064; SEPTEMBER 8, 1998
September 8, 1998
News Release 98-064
Inv. No. 332-391
ITC IDENTIFIES 42 SEPARATE FEDERAL LAWS
THAT AUTHORIZE UNILATERAL ECONOMIC SANCTIONS
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) identified 42 separate federal laws that
authorize economic sanctions in a report recently submitted to the Committee on Ways and
Means, U.S. House of Representatives.
The laws in question may mandate particular actions or may serve as the basis for mandatory
or discretionary actions by the Executive Branch, according to the ITC report. The agency
identified a total of 142 statutory provisions pertaining to unilateral economic sanctions under
these laws, the largest percentage of which concern terrorism (20 percent).
The ITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, prepared the report at the
request of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Ways and Means. The report
provides legislators with a compilation of current unilateral economic sanctions, defined by
the Committee as meaning "any unilateral restriction or condition on economic activity with
respect to a foreign country or foreign entity that is imposed by the United States for reasons
of foreign policy or national security." The report is expected to be useful to legislators as
they consider sanction-related legislation.
As requested, the ITC's report includes a description of U.S. unilateral economic sanctions
currently in effect; a review of recent literature on the economic effects of national level
economic sanctions; a survey of affected U.S. industries concerning the costs and effects of
U.S. unilateral economic sanctions on such industries and their markets; and a proposed
methodology to analyze in future studies the short- and long-term costs of U.S. unilateral
sanctions and their impact on the U.S. economy. As directed by the Committee, the report
excludes certain trade measures, including multilateral sanctions, measures imposed to
remedy unfair trade practices, and actions taken pursuant to the extension by the United
States of most-favored-nation trading status. Following are highlights of the report:
- As requested by the Committee, in addition to federal sanction-related laws, the ITC
identified 27 state, county, and city laws imposing unilateral economic sanctions, as well
as 14 additional proposed state and local measures, concerning human rights practices in
Burma, Cuba, Nigeria, and Tibet, and the possession by international financial
institutions of funds belonging to Holocaust victims and their heirs.
- The ITC contacted 492 U.S. firms and professional or trade associations in a non-scientific telephone survey to obtain their views and information on U.S. unilateral
economic sanctions. Survey respondents stated that it was difficult for them to quantify
economic effects of sanctions such as the business losses experienced, compared to the
returns expected if sanctions had not been in place; the effects of delayed entrance into a
foreign market because of sanctions; and the business losses incurred because sanctions
may cause U.S. firms to be perceived as unreliable suppliers due to the threat of future
U.S. unilateral economic sanctions. Many respondents stated that identification of, and
compliance with, the large number of U.S. unilateral economic sanctions is difficult and
- As requested, the ITC reviewed recent literature on the economic effects of national-level economic sanctions. These studies take a variety of methodological approaches,
with most examining foregone annual export sales to target countries due to all U.S.
sanctions, including multilateral sanctions. Estimates in this literature of foregone
annual export sales range from $5 to $20 billion.
- Based on its survey of the recent literature, the ITC's likely approach in evaluating the
economic impact of U.S. unilateral sanctions on an ongoing basis in future reports
would be to jointly employ a variety of economic methodologies to capture the effects
of economic sanctions. The exact combination would depend on the specific request as
well as the length of time available for analysis. In addition to economic
methodologies, the ITC would seek industry and interested party views through
hearings, questionnaires, and other survey forms.
The foregoing is from the ITC's report Overview and Analysis of Current U.S. Unilateral
Economic Sanctions (Inv. No. 332-391, USITC Publication 3124, July 1998). The report will
be posted on the ITC's Internet server at www.usitc.gov. A printed copy may be requested by
calling 202-205-1809 or by writing the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade
Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. Requests may be faxed to 202-205-2104.
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