International Trade > Export Controls and Economic Sanctions

As the international trade regulatory environment in the United States and internationally grows increasingly more byzantine, with dozens of intertwined domestic agencies overseeing policy and compliance, the need for legal guidance has never been greater. U.S. firms and their foreign trading partners face vigorous policing to ensure strict compliance with export controls, economic sanctions and other international trade control laws. Within the framework of our large international trade practice, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a recognized leader in advising and representing clients on the full range of administrative, public policy and litigation concerns arising out of export control and economic sanctions issues.

Navigating Through Stepped-Up Controls and Scrutiny

Ever-evolving national security and foreign policy priorities increase risks for companies with international business interests. Without experienced legal guidance, even routine business transactions can run afoul of U.S. export control and sanctions laws. In the current political climate, companies confronted with enforcement actions also face the possibility of damage to their relations with government officials, their stockholders and the general public.

With that in mind, our reach extends to markets around the world through Akin Gump lawyers and our extensive network of local counsel. We have broad experience in:

  • Defense and dual-use trade controls
    U.S. and multilateral regimes, including the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR); the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies; the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC); the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) administered by the U.S. Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) and related import provisions administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and antiboycott regulations administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce and its agencies, including the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), Office of Antiboycott Compliance (OAC) and the Census Bureau
  • International sanctions programs
    U.S. and multilateral sanctions programs adopted by the United Nations (U.N.), the United States and the European Union, including those administered by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
  • Nuclear trade controls
    Multilateral nonproliferation treaties and controls on nuclear technology and commodities administered by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Over the course of decades working in these sensitive, often highly politicized arenas, we have gained a reputation for attaining positive results that simultaneously honor the privacy and discretion our clients demand.

Akin Gump attacks the new breed of overlapping global trade regimes through a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach. We draw on the considerable legal and policy skills of our lawyers across key practices to address the global compliance needs of clients engaged in cross-border trade. As needed, our extensive internal resources in corporate, energy, public law and policy, white collar criminal defense and other critical areas are all brought to bear to solve clients’ international trade problems.

Our global trade controls practice stands ready to aid clients in expanding and maintaining efficient cross-border trade in today’s challenging international marketplace. From Fortune 500 companies to smaller entrepreneurial enterprises, we have assisted clients regarding compliance, enforcement, licensing and policy concerns in numerous industries, including aerospace, electronics, energy, equipment manufacturers, investment funds and private equity, and technology.


We develop, implement, audit and evaluate internal control programs and procedures to ensure compliance with interlocking, complicated defense trade controls, dual-use export controls, sanctions programs and other regulatory schemes. We advise clients on how these laws apply to their operational business activities and offer regulatory training for in-house staff. We assist clients with international investment decisions and transactions by conducting due diligence reviews of export control and sanctions issues, addressing related concerns and preparing risk factor assessments and disclosures.


By conducting internal compliance audits and investigations, we help companies identify potential violations of export controls and economic sanctions programs, assess related liabilities and develop mitigating and remedial measures and strategies. We help clients prepare and submit voluntary disclosures of violations to the relevant government agencies and negotiate the most favorable possible resolutions. Moreover, we defend clients in administrative proceedings and litigation, including civil and criminal investigations and enforcement actions initiated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other U.S. government agencies.

Classification and Licensing

To assist our clients in determining which regulatory regimes govern specific products or transactions, we provide legal analysis and practical assistance, and prepare applications for commodity jurisdiction rulings, commodity classification determinations and specific authorizations and licenses.

Public Policy

As a heralded public policy and advocacy firm, Akin Gump is actively involved in the export control and sanctions-related reform initiatives of the President’s Export Council Subcommittee on Export Administration, congressional working groups, the American Bar Association and other professional associations and private business coalitions. We apprise international trade clients of the relevant legislative initiatives and the public policy debate in Washington, D.C., the capitols of other countries and multilateral organizations, such as the U.N., as well as the development of state and local sanctions laws. We then work with clients to help shape these policy developments. Akin Gump attorneys assist clients—including sovereign governments—in drafting proposed legislation. We lobby the congressional and executive branches, advise Congress on legislative initiatives and help draft and present congressional testimony focusing on export controls and economic sanctions concerns.