What is an Embargo?

Monday, November 16 2009 22:55

An embargo is a governmental order prohibiting foreign goods from leaving one port and entering another, and can be levied on foreign or domestic shipping vessels. Embargoes are generally issued due to an existing or anticipated shortage of a commodity or good, and issued for reasons regarding international policy. Essentially, an embargo limits and even prohibits certain goods from leaving one country and entering the sanctioned country. In summary, an embargo is a levy imposed due to conflicting views on foreign and or international policy.

Who enforces embargoes?

Embargoes are enforced by The Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals, OFAC administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions against targeted foreign countries, terrorism sponsoring organizations and international narcotics traffickers. Granted authority by national emergency powers, specific legislation, and the President, OFAC imposes controls on foreign transactions and immobilizes foreign assets that are contained in U.S. jurisdiction. International mandates including the United Nations generally apply the sanctions, which are multilateral in scope, and are monitored with close cooperation from allied governments.

Who is currently sanctioned?

For a current listing of sanctioned countries, visit the Office of Foreign Assets Control website.

For more information on embargoes, please visit these web sites:

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development: Contains current progress reports on non-cooperating countries and territories.

Bureau of Industry and Security: The BIS web page will provide information on the regulation of exports for national security, foreign policy, and nonproliferation reasons and the enforcement of those regulations. (Some links may require Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

US Department of State: This link provides current travel warnings, public announcements and consular information sheets for every country of the world.


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