What Are the Anti-Boycott Regulations?

What Are the Anti-Boycott Regulations?

Anti-boycott regulations in the US, governed by the Export Administration Act (EAA), prohibit companies and individuals from following foreign-mandated boycotts. Violators can face fines of up to $1 million and imprisonment for up to 20 years.


Anti-boycott regulations in the US aim to prevent customers from boycotting businesses. These regulations mainly target restrictive trade practices against Israeli companies. The Arab League requires its member countries to boycott trade with Israel and companies dealing with Israel since 1948. In response, the U.S. passed anti-boycott laws in the mid-1970s to prevent American companies from joining such boycotts. The law also prohibits discrimination in employment based on nationality, race, sex, or religion for U.S. citizens.

A Closer Look at Anti-Boycott Regulations

The Office of Antiboycott Compliance (OAC) in the United States enforces anti-boycott regulations. These rules were established by the EAA of 1979 and carry penalties for non-compliance. Though the EAA expired in 2001, it was extended through an executive order until the Export Control Reform Act (ERCA) amended it. Violators can face heavy fines, imprisonment, and loss of export privileges.

The regulations aim to prevent U.S. companies from adopting foreign policies that conflict with U.S. policy. The Ribicoff Amendment, overseen by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), also denies tax benefits to non-compliant companies.

Goals of Anti-Boycott Regulations

Anti-boycott regulations aim to prevent individuals and companies from engaging in discriminatory practices and refusing to do business with entities targeted by foreign countries' boycotts. These regulations also restrict the sharing of information about business relationships with the boycotted entities. Compliance with these regulations helps counteract the impact of foreign boycotts on friendly nations.

Penalties for Violating Anti-Boycott Regulations

The ERCA enforces penalties for breaking anti-boycott regulations. Civil violations may lead to fines of up to $300,000 or twice the value of exports involved, with imprisonment of up to 20 years. Criminal violations can result in a $1 million penalty for individuals or companies. Violators may also lose export privileges, face trade exclusion, and be denied foreign tax benefits through the Ribicoff Amendment.

Counter Boycotts

A counter-boycott is a response to an existing boycott, aimed at countering or neutralizing its impact. For instance, if a group of consumers boycotts a company's product, another group might organize a counter-boycott to encourage more purchases of that product, thus disrupting the original boycott and potentially leading to its failure.

Prohibitions of the Anti-Boycott Regulations

In the United States, anti-boycott regulations strictly forbid any U.S. business or individual from participating in a foreign country's boycott against a nation friendly to the U.S. Sharing information about an individual's relationship to the boycotted country with those foreign governments is also prohibited.

Additionally, U.S. banking entities cannot execute letters of credit that involve participation in such a boycott. If a U.S. company receives a request for information from a foreign government related to this type of boycott, it must notify the U.S. Office of Anti-Boycott Compliance.

Offices overseeing compliance in the U.S. have the authority to enforce penalties on companies and individuals involved in foreign-enforced boycotts against friendly nations. These penalties may include monetary fines, revocation of privileges, and imprisonment.


Anti-boycott regulations in the US aim to prevent discriminatory practices and protect friendly nations from the impact of foreign-mandated boycotts. Violators of these regulations face severe penalties, including heavy fines and imprisonment. Individuals and businesses need to understand these regulations and comply with them to avoid legal consequences.

The Export Administration Act (EAA)
The Office of Anti-boycott Compliance (OAC)
The Export Control Reform Act (ERCA)
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
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