Export controls: 2020 year in review

BY , David F. Crosby

The new year began with several export developments to watch, including changes to U.S. products and technology controls, EAR regulations, and OFAC sanctions. Below, we take a comprehensive lookback at export control trends of note and share our 2021 outlook for Commerce and State Department priorities, anticipated rule changes, and key updates to the EAR, ITAR, and OFAC programs.

2020 saw a number of changes to the Commerce Control List (CCL) and the United States Munitions List (USML) including the transfer of firearms, guns, and ammunition from the USML to the CCL; the addition of certain chemicals and equipment relevant to life sciences businesses; and the introduction of controls on emerging technologies including machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Proposed upcoming CCL changes include updates to advanced surveillance systems and items of human rights concerns; requests for comments on the identification and control of foundational technologies; and proposed controls on software for automated nucleic acid assemblers and synthesizers.

EAR implemented a number of changes to Country Policy Rules and License Exceptions affecting exports, reexports, and in-country transfers to and within:

  • Hong Kong
  • China
  • Russia
  • Venezuela
  • Ukraine
  • Mexico
  • Cyprus
  • Yemen

Key OFAC sanctions developments included:

  • OFAC’s Chinese military companies’ sanctions, which apply to any Chinese company (and its 50% or more owned subsidiaries) identified in or pursuant to E.O. 13959
  • Additional Iran sanctions regarding the banking sector
  • Key recent OFAC enforcement cases
    • Keysight Technologies, Inc. (9/4/2020)
    • BitGo, Inc. (12/30/2020)
    • PT Bukit Muria Jaya (BMJ) (1/4/2021)
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Alexandra Lopez-Casero


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David F. Crosby


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