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Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism: Arab League

Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism

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Case 76-3 (formerly 65-4)
US v. Arab League
(1979–: Antiboycott Measures)

| Chronology of Key Events | Goals of Sender Country | Response to Target Country |
Attitude of Other Countries | Legal Notes | Economic Impact | Assessment |
Author's Summary | Bibliography |

Goals of Sender Country

Rep. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)
“American companies have no business aiding the Arabs in their economic warfare against Israel.” (Washington Post, 26 March 1993, D1)

US Department of Commerce
“The antiboycott laws were adopted to require US firms to refuse to participate in foreign boycotts that the United States does not sanction. They have the effect of preventing US firms from being used to implement foreign policies of other nations which run counter to US policy.” (Bureau of Export Administration, Antiboycott Compliance Requirements,

Response of Target Country

Howard Stanislawski
“The American Arab relationship has grown dramatically since 1973, notwithstanding the enactment and implementation in 1976 and 1977 of rigorous antiboycott legislation by the Congress... Substantial alterations in boycott clause terminology have been provided by Arab boycotting states so as to make compliance with the American law simpler and much less problematic.” (Stanislawski 1985, 238)

Attitude of Other Countries

Donald Jamieson, minister of industry, trade and commerce, during debate on 21 October 1976, in House of Commons: “The government has clarified its position in relation to international boycotts and has strongly affirmed its opposition to discrimination and boycotts based on race, national or ethnic origin, or religion. Accordingly, the government will take measures to deny its support of facilities for various kinds of trade transactions in order to combat any discriminatory effects which such boycotts may have on Canadian firms and individuals.” (Turck 1978, 714–15)

French pass antiboycott law in 1977, but its application is hamstrung by ministerial decree issued shortly thereafter that excludes government guaranteed contracts in Middle East. “Practically, because of the ambiguity of the law and because of the Prime Minister's [Raymond Barre] decree, the law appears to have had little if any effect on French Mideast trade.” (Turck 1978, 726)

United Kingdom
“In Britain, the House of Lords conducted an extensive investigation of the Arab boycott but thereafter the British government did little or nothing, while professing its opposition to the boycott.” (US Department of the Treasury 6:1)

From letter from British Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington to British Arab Boycott Coordination Committee: “We firmly believe that it would be wrong to interfere with the commercial judgment of firms, and we leave it to individual firms to decide whether or not to comply with the boycott. We believe that the introduction of legislation on this matter could seriously damage British commercial and political interests. We see it as our first priority to help resolve the Arab Israel conflict which gives rise to the boycott.” (US Department of the Treasury 6:9)

Germany, France and the Netherlands have enacted laws making cooperation with unsanctioned boycotts unlawful. None of the laws is as detailed as or contains reporting requirements similar to those in US law, and none of these countries is believed to have prosecuted any person violating them. (USITC, Effects of The Arab League Boycott of Israel on US Businesses, 1994)

Legal Notes

Export Administration Act of 1979, as amended
Section 8. (a) …The President shall issue regulations prohibiting any US person, with respect to his activities in the interstate or foreign commerce of the United States, from taking or knowingly agreeing to take…actions with intent to comply with, further, or support any boycott fostered or imposed by a foreign country against a country which is friendly to the United States and which is not itself the object of any form of boycott pursuant to the United States law or regulation.

Tax Reform Act of 1976
According to this Act, taxpayers participating in or cooperating with an international boycott will be denied certain tax credits and deferrals. (Carter 1988, 179)

Foreign Relations Authorization Act for 1994 and 1995
“This Act prohibits the sale of defense articles or services by the US government to any country or organization “known to” have a policy or practice of requesting compliance with, or information in furtherance of, the Arab League Secondary boycott of Israel.”
(President’s Export Council, Survey of US Unilateral Economic Sanctions, June 1997, 39)

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