Trade embargo

This article is about the economic term. For other uses, see Embargo (disambiguation).

An embargo (from the Spanish embargo, literally Distraint) is the partial or complete prohibition of commerce and trade with a particular country.[1] Embargoes are considered strong diplomatic measures imposed in an effort, by the imposing country, to elicit a given national-interest result from the country on which it is imposed. Embargoes are similar to economic sanctions and are generally considered legal barriers to trade, not to be confused with blockades, which are often considered to be acts of war.[2]

In response to embargoes, an independent economy or autarky often develops in an area subjected to heavy embargo. Effectiveness of embargoes is thus in proportion to the extent and degree of international participation.

Examples of Embargoes

[Embargo Act of 1807|The Embargo of 1807]] was a series of laws passed by the U.S. Congress 1806–1808, during the second term of President Thomas Jefferson.[3] Britain and France were engaged in a major war; the U.S. wanted to remain neutral and trade with both sides, but neither side wanted the other to have the American supplies.[4] The American national-interest goal was to use the new laws to avoid war and force that country to respect American rights.[5]

One of the most comprehensive attempts at an embargo happened during the Napoleonic Wars. In an attempt to cripple the United Kingdom economically, the Continental System – which forbade European nations from trading with the UK – was created. In practice it was not completely enforceable and was as harmful if not more so to the nations involved than to the British.[6]

The United States imposed an embargo on Cuba on February 7, 1962.[7] Referred to by Cuba as "el bloqueo" (the blockade),[8] the US embargo on Cuba remains one of the longest-standing embargoes.[9] The embargo was embraced by few of the United States' allies and apparently has done little to affect Cuban policies over the years.[10] Nonetheless, while taking some steps to allow limited economic exchanges with Cuba, President Barack Obama reaffirmed the policy, stating that without improved human rights and freedoms by Cuba's current government, the embargo remains "in the national interest of the United States."[11]

In effort to punish South Africa for its policies of apartheid, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a voluntary international oil embargo against South Africa on November 20, 1987; that embargo had the support of 130 countries.[12]

List of countries under embargo

  • Mali (by ECOWAS) total embargo in order to force Juntas to give power back and re-install National constitution. Decided on April 2, 2012.[13]
  • China (by EU and US), arms embargo, enacted in response to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.[14]
  • Iran (by US and US international allies), notably bar nuclear, missile and many military exports to Iran and target investments in: oil, gas and petrochemicals, exports of refined petroleum products, banks, insurance, financial institutions, and shipping.[15] Enacted 1979, increased through the following years and reached its tightest point in 2010.[16]
  • North Korea (by UN, USA, EU),[17] luxury goods (and arms), enacted 2006
  • Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, (by UN), consumer goods, enacted 1975.
  • Cuba (by US), arms, consumer goods, money, enacted 1960
  • Georgia (by Russia), agricultural products, wine, mineral water, enacted 2006
  • Japan, animal shipments due to lack of infrastructure and radiation issue after the 2011 9.0 earthquake aftermath.
  • Indonesia (by Australia), live cattle because of cruel slaughter methods in Indonesia.[18]
  • Gaza Strip by Israel since 2001
  • Syria (by EU, US), arms and imports of oil.[19]

Former trade embargoes

See also

Economics portal



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