General Authorization to Export Medicine to Iran Has Pitfalls
WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- On October 22, 2012 the United States Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") completely revised and reissued the foundation of the U.S. economic sanctions program prohibiting trade with Iran: the Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR). One of the key changes that occurred as result of the revisions to the ITR, now re-named the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR), is the issuance of a general license which authorizes the exportation and reexportation of medicine and basic medical supplies to Iran. Prior to this action, U.S. exporters of these products were required to secure a specific license from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in order to trade with Iran. Notably, the new regulations also contain general authorization for a variety of payment and financing methods for these exports. However, while the ITSR now opens up a number of opportunities for U.S. medical companies, restrictions on certain products remain, which require the procurement of a specific license to export.
For example, some of the more notable medicines which fall under the exclusions to this authorization include: Xanax, Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Wellbuterin, Dramamine, Wellbuterin, Advil PM, Benadryl, and Oral Steroid Painkillers. These medicines all fall under the several categories of medicine which are not covered by the general license. Those categories include Non-NSAID analgesics, anticholinergics, opiods, benzodiazepines, legal narcotics, and bioactive peptides. In order to export any of these items, U.S. companies must first obtain a specific license from OFAC.
OFAC also provides a list of basic medical supplies which fall under the general license. This list covers only the most rudimentary devices, such as bandages, tongue depressors, scalpels and other items which previously did not require an Official Commodity Classification of EAR99 from the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). For exporters of medical devices not contained in the list of basic medical supplies, a specific license and a BIS EAR99 classification are still required before any trade with Iran may be conducted.
Finally, while these new authorizations may seem like a boon for U.S. exporters and a god send for those in Iran who need such products, there is still great difficulty in finding U.S. banks to process payments for these exports. Since they can no longer rely on a specific license issued by OFAC, U.S. banks have to trust that the transactions for which they are requested to process payments are authorized under these new regulations. As such, the risk of processing a payment which may be in violation of the sanctions could be greater than ever. Therefore, compliance measures should be bolstered both by the exporters and the banking community to ensure all facets of the new authorizations are adhered to.
The ITSR is an exceptionally complex set of regulations and it is suggested that exporters seek out an attorney specializing in export and OFAC-related matters before going through with any transactions related to Iran.
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