Seeking Comments on OFAC's TSRA Licensing Program
On December 11, 2006, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments "on the effectiveness of OFAC's licensing procedures for the exportation of agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices to Sudan and Iran" under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA). The deadline for submission of comments is January 10, 2007.
As many U.S. exporters of agricultural products, medicine and medical devices are aware, OFAC's TSRA licensing process is anything but effective. License applicants are currently experiencing significant delays in obtaining new TSRA licenses from OFAC. In addition, applicants are experiencing significant delays and requests for new information on requests for renewals of TSRA licenses that had been routinely granted in a reasonable amount of time in the past. Many applicants have recently had licenses denied that had been granted in the past. These problems and delays are well known among those exporters and practitioners that handle TSRA licenses on a regular basis.
In addition, OFAC has not complied with section 906(b) of TSRA by failing to issue to Congress the required quarterly reports on license processing times. While the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) continues to submit timely quarterly TSRA reports to Congress, as indicated on OFAC's website, the last quarterly report issued by OFAC covered the period July through October 2005. That report indicated that the average processing time for issuing licenses was 25.2 business days (approximately 5 weeks). There is no doubt, however, that OFAC's average processing time to issue TSRA licenses increased dramatically in 2006.
A number of organizations will be submitting comments to OFAC with their concerns regarding the TSRA licensing process. While we have a good deal of information based on the license applications that we have submitted and obtained for clients, the comments will be enhanced if they provide as much specific information as possible regarding the experiences of U.S. exporters in obtaining TSRA licenses, including:
- The number of days (actual days, not business days) that it took to receive a TSRA license from OFAC after the license application was submitted;
- Describe your experience in obtaining renewals of previously issued TSRA licenses. For example, was new information requested that was not requested in the past?
- Has OFAC requested specific information on end-users (e.g., hospitals)?
- Have any license applications for renewals of previously issued licenses been denied?