Over the past few years the United States has imposed a variety of sanctions in an effort to deter the actions of the Venezuelan government. This month President Trump implemented yet another one of these sanctions blocking all property of the Venezuelan government in the United States. Given the geographically close relationship that Venezuela has with the United States, particularly Miami, Florida, U.S. companies should be conscious of these sanctions in their dealings with South America. For the most part U.S. companies should be okay when exporting to Venezuela, but there are a few executive orders to be aware of prior to engaging in exportation.
What is Executive Order 13808?
On August 24, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13808 which prohibits United States nationals from engaging in any economic activities with the Venezuelan oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) and bars U.S. nationals from investing in any Venezuelan government securities. Additionally, E.O. 13808 prohibits the Venezuelan government from taking advantage of U.S. financial markets. However, E.O. 13808 also extends to entities owned 50 percent or more by the Government of Venezuela as such entities are often controlled by the Government of Venezuela. Also included are any entities that are less than 50% owned, but still controlled by the Government of Venezuela. Accordingly, when doing business with any company in Venezuela, you must conduct due diligence and ensure such company is not owned by the government in order to avoid sanctions.
What is Executive Order 13884?
Most recently, on August 5, 2019, President Trump issued another Executive Order placing further constraints on engagement with Venezuela. However, these sanctions do not preclude U.S. persons from exporting items to Venezuela provided that the transactions do not involve sanctioned individuals or entities such as businesses run by the Government of Venezuela. For transactions related to US-origin food or medicine, no specific OFAC license is needed as long as your transaction or other dealing does not involve property or interests in property of a Specially Designated National. However, you should still contact the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) to ensure that your export to Venezuela is authorized.