Shocking News Break: Saudi Arabia Still Doesn’t Like Israel

The Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) prohibit U.S. persons from cooperating in any boycotts of foreign states that the U.S. does not support. The primary purpose of these regs is to attack the Arab League’s boycott of Israel.

The Jerusalem Post recently came out with an article showing that, despite these antiboycott provisions, attempts by Saudi Arabia to gain compliance from American businesses with it boycott activities are on the rise.

A review of US Commerce Department data conducted by the Post found that the number of boycott-related and restrictive trade-practice requests received by American companies from Saudi Arabia has increased in each of the past two years, rising from 42 in 2006 to 65 in 2007 to 74 in 2008, signifying a jump of more than 76 percent.

In addition to being a violation of domestic U.S. law by American businesses, this is also pretty clearly a violation of Saudi Arabia’s commitments to the WTO:

In November 2005, the desert kingdom pledged to abandon the boycott after Washington conditioned Saudi Arabia’s entry into the World Trade Organization on such a move. A month later, on December 11, Saudi Arabia was granted WTO membership.

The WTO, which aims to promote free trade, prohibits members from engaging in discriminatory practices such as boycotts or embargoes.

It looks like the Jerusalem Post article might be spurring Congressional action:

[Democrat and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Howard] Berman declared that he would take action on the issue.

“I intend to pursue this matter with the administration,” he said.
Across the aisle, Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, who chairs the House Republican Conference, also criticized Riyadh for its duplicity.

“Saudi Arabia’s disregard of its 2005 pledge to end the boycott against Israel is unacceptable,” Pence told the Post.

“Congress and the administration must hold Saudi Arabia accountable. The United States cannot stand by and continue to witness this mistreatment towards the peace-loving people of Israel,” he said.

Over at International Trade Law News, there’s a graph up showing boycott activity among Arab League nations in 2008. Saudi Arabia ranked fifth among boycott requests, while Jordan remained alone in having no reported boycott activity.

-Susan