U.S. persons and companies are discouraged, and sometimes required to refuse to participate in foreign boycotts that are not endorsed by the United States government. Since the anti-boycott laws (originally passed as the 1977 amendment to the Export Administration Act and the Ribicoff Amendment to the 1976 Tax Reform Act) were created, the primary focus has been the Arab League boycott of the state of Israel. Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates (recently canceled anti-Israel boycott), and Yemen have all been determined by the U.S. government to currently require participation in the boycott of Israel. While the Israeli boycott has been the main focus in terms of enforcement, the anti-boycott laws apply to all foreign boycotts that the U.S. government have not endorsed.
A U.S. person or company should not conduct any business with any company that ask inquiries about their business dealings with Israel or national/residents of Israel. Any inquiry of this nature that have no bearing on normal business information may be a violation of the U.S. anti-boycott law, including inquiries that have not been responded to. Agreements to refuse to do business with Israel or to disclose the company’s business relationships with Israel are examples of prohibited conduct under the EAR.
Examples of Boycott Request (from BIS):
The EAR requires that a company self-report if it has been asked to take part in an unsanctioned foreign boycott. Any violation must be reported to the U.S. Department of Commerce- Office of Anti-boycott Compliance. Penalties can be both criminal and administrative and include jail time, fines, and denial of export privileges.
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