Ukraine was teetering on the brink of civil war with a Russian invasion force amassed along the eastern border at press time in May. Prior newsreels of Russians commandeering Ukrainian tanks and spinning donuts in the town square had escalated into sustained gunfire and a mounting death toll.
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The impact on the respective nations’ automotive sectors and their American vendors remained uncertain amid diplomatic efforts to ease the conflict. An accelerated prospect of heightened U.S. economic sanctions against Russia was equally up in the air as the American public retains an isolationist posture.
Europe’s leaders have 460 billion reasons to balk at pressing the issue – Russia’s annual trade with the European Union amounts to $460 billion compared to the $40 billion in U.S.-Russian trade relations. In addition, Europe is heavily dependent on Russia’s fuel output and other natural resources.
“I am not able to make a prediction as to what will happen with regards to sanctions; the situation changes daily at the moment,” says Kenneth C. Duckworth, principal commercial officer with the U.S. Commercial Service in Russia.
“I think, however, you should keep two things in mind,” Duckworth explains in an exclusive interview with Aftermarket Business World. “One, the U.S. sanctions and the sanctions imposed by our European partners are very limited to a small group of people and are targeted at their personal assets, and two, we are not discouraging companies to do business in Russia,” he reports.
“That being said, we encourage caution in their due diligence,” Duckworth says in addressing U.S.-based firms pondering business interests in the region. “They should be familiar with the executive orders and seek out guidance and updates from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).” (Emailed updates are available here.
“If necessary, seek out a determination from OFAC,” Duckworth advises. “The lists containing all sanctioned individuals on this executive order, and any government order, are described on the Bureau of Industry and Security website.” It is a best practice to check all international contacts and clients against these lists before engagement and/or shipment,” he says.