Today the Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) published a final rule, effective immediately,* implementing the new license exception Strategic Trade Authorization (STA). Under this new license exception, licenses will not be required for exports to 36 countries, including Canada, France, German, Japan and the United Kingdom, of items classified under all but about 30 ECCNs. Exporters relying on license exception STA will be required, among other things, to get certain written assurances from the party receiving the export.
Of course, the new rule follows a long tradition of badly drafted rules in the EAR. The crucial part of the rule reads as follows:
Exports, reexports, and in country transfers in which the only applicable reason(s) for control is (are) national security (NS); chemical or biological weapons (CB);nuclear nonproliferation (NP); regional stability (RS); crime control (CC), and/ or significant items (SI) are authorized for destinations in or nationals of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, or the United Kingdom.
But wait a minute. With the exception of items subject to control of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a handful of Crime Control items, virtually all of the other ECCNs have anti-terrorism (AT) as a reason for control. By not mentioning AT in the list of control reasons eligible for the new exception, the rule, literally and exactly read, means that STA cannot be used for almost every ECCN on the Commerce Control List.
To make things worse, BIS admits that this would be the result if the rule is interpreted to mean what it says but then says that the rule doesn’t mean what it says. Seriously.
Although most ECCNs include antiterrorism as a reason for control, that reason for control currently imposes a license requirement for only five destinations, none of which is eligible for STA. Although the absence of a reference to antiterrorism controls in License Exception STA might cause some readers to conclude erroneously that items controlled for antiterrorism reasons may not be shipped under license exception STA, adding such a reference might cause some readers to conclude erroneously that exports, reexports, and in country transfers to which antiterrorism controls do apply may be consummated under License Exception STA. The latter error has greater potential for harm than the former. Therefore, BIS does not believe that a change to the regulatory text on this point is desirable.
Except this latter “error” — that a reference to AT in the rule would make people think that they could use the AT exception to send things to, say, Cuba — is easily avoided because none of the AT countries are included as permissible destinations for the license exception. So, don’t read the rule literally but read it as if AT was listed as one of the controls eligible for the STA exception even though that’s not what the rule says.
This is why export lawyers will never be lacking for work.