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March 16, 2022

US takes more trade actions against Russia

Executive summary

On 11 March 2022, United States (US) President Joseph Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) on Prohibiting Certain Imports, Exports, and New Investment with Respect to Continued Russian Federation Aggression.1 In conjunction with this EO, the White House also released a Fact Sheet that announced coordinated actions with the European Union (EU) and the Group of 7 nations (G7)that would revoke Russia’s most-favored nation (MFN) trade status and deny it borrowing privileges at multilateral financial institutions.3 The revocation of Russia’s MFN benefits under the World Trade Organization (WTO) framework requires Congressional action, specifically directed towards revoking Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) for Russia.

Detailed discussion

Section 1(a) of the EO prohibits:

  • (i) the importation into the United States of the following products of Russian Federation origin: fish, seafood, and preparations thereof; alcoholic beverages; non-industrial diamonds; and any other products of Russian Federation origin as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Commerce

  • (ii) the exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a United States person, wherever located, of luxury goods,4 and any other items as may be determined by the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury, to any person located in the Russian Federation

  • (iii) new investment in any sector of the Russian Federation economy as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, by a United States person, wherever located

  • (iv) the exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a United States person, wherever located, of US dollar-denominated banknotes to the Government of the Russian Federation or any person located in the Russian Federation

  • (v) any approval, financing, facilitation, or guarantee by a United States person, wherever located, of a transaction by a foreign person where the transaction by that foreign person would be prohibited by this section if performed by a United States person or within the United States

According to the Fact Sheet issued by the White House on their agreement with the EU and G7 nations, the sectors of Russia’s economy targeted by this action will deny Russia more than US$1 billion5 in export revenues. The Fact sheet also estimates that the US export value of the products covered by luxury goods restrictions, which includes items such as spirits, tobacco, apparel and footwear valued over $1,000 per unit, glassware, jewelry and artwork, is nearly $550 million per year. The EO also establishes the legal authority for future investment restrictions in any sector of the Russian economy.

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) issued General License No. 17 along with the EO, allowing for importations of restricted merchandise under section 1(a)(i) of the EO through 25 March 2022, pursuant to written contracts or written agreements entered into prior to 11 March 2022. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued subsequent guidance noting filers of entries or admissions into Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs) will be required to provide purchase orders, executed contracts and/or other documentation to evidence the date the order or contract went into effect (i.e., if the order or contract was executed prior to 11 March 2022).6

CBP will require such documentation to be provided prior to merchandise unlading from the method of conveyance into the US. Lastly, CBP notes direct delivery privileges for merchandise covered under the EO are suspended until further notice. Admission via a CBP Form 214 or electronic equivalent prior to authorization will be required for the duration of the EO.

In addition to issuing the EO, the Administration announced that President Biden will work closely with Congress to deny Russia the benefits of its WTO membership and ensure that Russian imports do not receive MFN treatment in the US economy. WTO rules generally require each member to provide unconditional MFN treatment (i.e., a member’s lowest tariff or best trade concession) to all WTO members. If Russia’s PNTR status were to be revoked, applicable duty rates on US imports from Russia would be rates set under column 2 of the US Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS), unless otherwise specified by law.7

Members of Congress have recently introduced legislation (e.g., H.R. 6835, H.R. 6905, H.R. 7014, S. 3725, S. 3717, S. 3786) that would remove PNTR status. S. 3786, sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden, includes the ban of import of energy products from Russia and the suspension of normal trade relations with Russia that, “reflects an agreement reached by the top Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee leaders” according to a statement by Republican Senator Mike Crapo.Despite the introduction of multiple pieces of legislation, however, none has yet to pass either chamber of Congress.

Actions for businesses

Companies involved in the importation of any products from Russia into the US should begin mapping their complete, end-to-end supply chain to fully understand the extent of products impacted and review alternative sourcing options.

For those utilizing the US FTZ Program, specific focus should be given to subject importations under the EO and design of procedures to manage the additional documentation requirements, changes to non-Direct Delivery procedures and other considerations of supply chain impact and FTZ operations.


For additional information with respect to this Alert, please contact the following:

Ernst & Young LLP (United States), Global Trade



  1. Executive Order on Prohibiting Certain Imports, Exports, and New Investment with Respect to Continued Russian Federation Aggression. The order was issued under the authority of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code.

  2. The G7 nations are comprised of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US.

  3. FACT SHEET: United States, European Union, and G7 to Announce Further Economic Costs on Russia.

  4. A luxury good refers to any item identified in the new supplement no. 5 to part 746 of the EAR. complete listing of luxury goods covered under the scope of the EO can be found in Federal Register Notice 87 FR 14785.

  5. Currency references in this Alert are to the US$.

  6. CSMS #51289159 - OFAC Issues General License Authorizing Certain Transactions with Respect to Seafood, Alcoholic Beverages and Non-Industrial Diamond Importations from the Russian Federation.

  7. Invasion of Ukraine: Russia’s Trade Status, Tariffs, and WTO Issues. Congressional Research Service, IN11881, 10 March 2022.

  8. Crapo: Congress Should Act Quickly on Bipartisan Legislation to Suspend Trade Relations with Russia, United States Senate Committee on Finance, 11 March 2022.


The information contained herein is general in nature and is not intended, and should not be construed, as legal, accounting or tax advice or opinion provided by Ernst & Young LLP to the reader. The reader also is cautioned that this material may not be applicable to, or suitable for, the reader's specific circumstances or needs, and may require consideration of non-tax and other tax factors if any action is to be contemplated. The reader should contact his or her Ernst & Young LLP or other tax professional prior to taking any action based upon this information. Ernst & Young LLP assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in tax laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.


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