US law firm summarizes possible impact of Trump election on US sanctions

West of England P&I’s US attorneys Freehill Hogan & Mahar have published a Client Alert commenting on the potential consequences for US sanctions of the recent election victory by Donald Trump. As the Alert says however this must necessarily remain speculation until Mr Trump takes office next January.

The law firm said that there was no clear answer to the question. “We now enter a period of some uncertainty with respect to US foreign policy”. Trump has never before held public office, and as such “has no track record of foreign policy votes or decisions”.

As such, observers can only rely on positions taken during the election campaign ” and, as we all know, candidates’ campaign pronouncements are not always matched by implementation once in office”.

With reference to Iran, Trump repeatedly criticized the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) “in strong terms” He said that he would call for “a much tougher enforcement of the terms of the deal against Iran”. Freehill Hogan & Mahar said that “given the involvement of allies in the negotiating the agreement over two years, it seems unlikely that a President Trump would simply renounce it on day one of his presidency”. The law firm thought it more probable that he will attempt to renegotiate the deal”. This would gain support from the Republican majority in Congress, many of whom had strongly opposed JCPOA.

Non-US companies that had resumed trading with Iran since the lifting of the US and EU secondary sanctions “need to be cognizant of the fact that the US sanctions landscape could change again once Mr Trump takes office”.

The current situation vis-à-vis Russia is that the US imposed by Executive Orders sanctions against specific sections of the Russian economy, and prohibited US persons from engaging “in any commercial transactions involving the geographic area of Crimea”. Trump’s highly publicized statements of admirations for Russia’s President Putin have led to speculation that, when President, Trump could ease the sanctions against Russia.

In Cuba, President Obama has eased part of the Cuban Asset Control Regulations (CACR). In particular, in October the CACR were amended to exempt foreign vessels delivering certain cargoes to Cuba from the 180-day rule, which had previously prevented vessels from calling at US ports for 180 days after departing from Cuba.

President-Elect Trump had been relatively quiet about relations with Cuba during his campaign. Given some of his statements to Cuban Americans in Florida, there is “no certainty that a President Trump will continue President Obama’s policy of relaxing the sanctions against Cuba, and there is a possibility that they could be tightened again”, the legal firm said.

Summarizing, Freehill Hogan & Mahar said that the election of Donald Trump as US president could herald a period of uncertainty in US foreign policy. “In his only major foreign policy address of the campaign, Mr Trump promised unpredictability in his foreign policy”.