Catching many by surprise, President Obama issued an Executive Order on Friday, January 13, 2017, which provides for the lifting of sanctions against Sudan in six months. In addition, OFAC published on Tuesday (January 17, 2017) a general license that authorizes all transactions prohibited under the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations (“SSR”), including transactions involving the Government of Sudan. The general license does include a requirement that any exports or reexports of agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices to Sudan be shipped within twelve months of the date of signing of the contract for export or reexport.

The Executive Order provides for the revocation of the sanctions provisions in Executive Orders 13067 and 13412 on July 12, 2017, if the Government of Sudan sustains the actions that it has taken over the previous six months. Based on press reports, it appears that the Trump transition team was advised of the changes.

Although the general license authorizes transactions with Sudan and the Government of Sudan (including the unblocking of assets of the Government of Sudan that were previously blocked), the full lifting of the sanctions is six months away. Much can occur during that period of time. In addition, these actions have no impact on the blocking of parties pursuant to the South Sudan and Darfur sanctions programs and the other sanctions pursuant to those programs. Therefore, caution should be exercised to ensure you are fully aware of all aspects of any proposed transaction. Paying particular attention to contract provisions to mitigate risks of loss in the event that the general license is revoked and the lifting of the sanctions does not occur may also be prudent.