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Economic sanctions

Economic sanctions are domestic penalties applied unilaterally by one country (or multilaterally, by a group of countries) on another country (or group of countries). Economic sanctions may include various forms of trade barriers and restrictions on financial transactions.[1] Economic sanctions are not necessarily imposed because of economic circumstances — they may also be imposed for a variety of political and social issues. Economic sanctions can be used for achieving domestic political gain.[2][3][4]


  • Politics of sanctions 1
    • Effectiveness of economic sanctions 1.1
  • Current sanctions 2
    • By targeted country 2.1
    • By targeted individuals 2.2
    • By sanctioning country 2.3
    • By targeted activity 2.4
    • Bilateral trade disputes 2.5
  • Former sanctions 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Politics of sanctions

Economic sanctions are used as a tool of foreign policy by many governments. Economic sanctions are usually imposed by a larger country upon a smaller country for one of two reasons – either the latter is a threat to the security of the former nation or that country treats its citizens unfairly. They can be used as a coercive measure for achieving particular policy goals related to trade or for humanitarian violations. Economic sanctions are used as an alternative weapon instead of going to war to achieve desired outcomes.

Some policy analysts believe imposing trade restrictions only serves to hurt ordinary people.[5]

Effectiveness of economic sanctions

Regime change is the most frequent foreign policy objective of economic sanctions.[6] There is controversy over the effectiveness of economic sanctions in their ability to achieve the stated purpose. Haufbauer et al. claimed that in their studies 34 percent of the cases were successful [7] When Robert A. Pape reexamined their study, he claimed that only five of their forty so-called "successes" stood out, dropping their success rate to 4%.[8]

It also affects the economy of the imposing country to some degree. If import restrictions were made, the consumers in the imposing country would have fewer choices of goods. If export restrictions were made or sanction prohibited businesses in the imposing country from doing business with the target country, the imposing country could lose markets and investment opportunities to competing countries.[9]

Jeremy Greenstock suggests that the reason sanctions are popular is not that they are known to be effective, but "that there is nothing else between words and military action if you want to bring pressure upon a government".[10]

Current sanctions

By targeted country

By targeted individuals

By sanctioning country

  • United States embargoes
  • The European Union threatened retaliatory tariffs on a range of US goods that would mainly affect swing states. The US government then removed the steel tariffs in early 2004.

By targeted activity

  • In response to recent cyber-attacks on April 1, 2015 President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the first-ever economic sanctions. The Executive Order will impact individuals and entities (“designees”) responsible for cyber-attacks that threaten the national security, foreign policy, economic health, or financial stability of the US. Specifically, the Executive Order authorizes the Treasury Department to freeze designees’ assets. [14]

Bilateral trade disputes

  • Vietnam as a result of capitalist influences over the 1990s and having imposed sanctions against Cambodia, is accepting of sanctions diposed with accountability.
  • In March 2010, Brazil introduced sanctions against the US. These sanctions were placed because the US government was paying cotton farmers for their products against World Trade Organization rules. The sanctions cover cotton, as well as cars, chewing gum, fruit, and vegetable products.[15] The WTO is currently supervising talks between the states to remove the sanctions.

Former sanctions

See also


  1. ^ Haidar, J.I., 2015."Sanctions and Exports Deflection: Evidence from Iran," Paris School of Economics, University of Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, Mimeo
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^
  4. ^ [2] Archived August 7, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ [3] Archived February 27, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Economic Sanctions Reconsidered, 3rd Edition, Hufbauer et al. page 67
  7. ^ Economic Sanctions Reconsidered, 3rd Edition, Hufbauer et al. page 159
  8. ^ Why economic sanctions still do not work, Robert A. Pape , page 66
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Howse, Robert L. and Genser, Jared M. (2008) "Are EU Trade Sanctions on Burma Compatible with WTO Law?" Michigan Journal of International Law 29(2): pp. 165–196
  12. ^
  13. ^ [4]
  14. ^
  15. ^

External links

  • Council on Foreign Relations: What Are Economic Sanctions?
  • Ethical Aspects of Sanctions in International Law by Hans Köchler (1994)
  • Four Decades of Failure: The U.S. Embargo against Cuba
  • Steel Trap: How Subsidies and Protectionism Weaken the U.S. Steel Industry
  • The European Union’s sanctions related to Human rights: the case of Burma/Myanmar.
  • U.S. Sanctions Against Burma: A Failure on All Fronts
  • Article by Steve Charnovitz on WTO trade sanctions
  • Article on ineffectiveness of EU trade sanctions
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