Export control is a critical issue facing all exporters and it has become more challenging with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Our company Theia Technologies suspended exports to our Russian distributor earlier this year and turned down a significant order in so doing. Immediately thereafter we received inquiries for the same product and quantity from various other parties, both known to us and new to us - it appeared our Russian distributor was trying to get around our policy. At that point we felt the need to better prepare ourselves for how to respond in the current environment.
To help us navigate the murky waters, we turned to the local office of U.S. Commercial Service Pacific Northwest - Washington and Oregon and Director Kellie Holloway-Jarman for advice and sought out insight from DEC member and attorney Akana Ma, shareholder at Buchalter/Ater Wynn. With their expert input, we developed a policy about how to manage in the current environment that included both a pro-active and reactive component – a pre-emptive message to all of our distributors and key customers and a similar reactive response to suspect inquiries. In both situations we inform our customers and potential customers of our policy that we have suspended exports to Russia and Belarus and do not allow the re-export of our products there.
We have added the further requirement that for opportunities that look similar to the Russian one received earlier, or if they are otherwise suspicious looking, we ask them to fill out form 711 from the Bureau of Industry and Security-U.S. Department of Commerce (BIS) that asks them to attest to the end user’s identity, location and product application. So far we have not found any customer willing to fill out this form, although we are expecting an order shortly from one who is willing. We feel that this requirement was successful in helping us weed out bad actors – we simply do not need the business of any party not willing to sign the form.
These actions are in addition to our standard terms and conditions of sale that include our policy is to comply with all US export regulations and not support re-export of our products contrary to US law. We have also reviewed training with our employees responsible for order processing to flag any questionable inquiry or order.
With these actions implemented, we believe we are better prepared to ensure compliance with US laws and export regulations. As a DEC member, I encourage you to reach out and use the vast expertise that the DEC members can offer in their professional capacities and their experience in the export trenches!
AuthorAndrea Van Landingham is Vice President of Theia Technologies, an Oregon Export Council board member, and brings decades of international business development and global supply chain partner management experience to the trade community.
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