US and EU Step Up Efforts to Co-ordinate Sanctions Policies

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The US and EU are boosting efforts to share information and co-ordinate sanctions policies, in a bid to make joint western economic and financial punishments more effective against Russia and other countries.

Washington and Brussels are expected on Tuesday to announce they are “committed to working more closely on sanctions as a key tool to address shared foreign policy goals”, according to a prepared statement by the US Treasury seen by the Financial Times.

The announcement comes after a meeting last month in Brussels, in which officials from the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the EU’s external action service and financial services directorate sought to “align the implementation of sanctions, promote compliance, strengthen enforcement, and address shared foreign policy challenges”, the statement said.

The EU and the US have worked together closely to impose and implement sanctions on Russia since its full-blown invasion of Ukraine was launched last year, and are now in a new stage of their crackdown as they try to limit sanctions evasion and the sale of weapons or dual-use technologies to Moscow.

The decision to increase technical co-ordination on sanctions reflects a recognition in Washington and Brussels that they need a better system in place permanently in case they need to deploy similar economic weapons in the future. The US and UK last year moved to bolster their own bilateral co-ordination on sanctions implementation and enforcement, and Brussels has been considering setting up its own version of Ofac.

In a nod to the collateral damage that can be inflicted by western sanctions, the Treasury statement said officials had also been exploring “methods to ensure that sanctions do not prevent humanitarian trade and assistance from reaching those in need and that persons in sanctioned jurisdictions preserve their internet freedom”.

It added: “Multilateral implementation maximises effectiveness of sanctions and minimises unintended costs and eases the compliance burden for the general public.”

As well as imposing sweeping sanctions on Russia’s central bank, top officials, banks, state-owned entities, oligarchs and defence companies, the EU and the US also co-ordinated the G7-led cap on the price of Russian oil and have sought to speak with a single voice to press other countries not to help Moscow economically and militarily.

But there have been some splits over how far to go in isolating Russia. While the US was pushing for a full G7 export ban on Russia, European allies along with Japan have resisted, the FT reported last month.

Source : FinancialTimes