President Trump’s tweet on Friday calling for no new North Korean sanctions was enough to make any corporate compliance officer’s head spin.
It was a case of tweet first, ask questions later when President Donald Trump on Friday suddenly messaged, “It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!”
Confusion within the Trump administration, as well as the export industry, was immediate, since the day before the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed new sanctions against two Chinese shipping companies, with the goal of further dismantling the illicit maritime supply chain that allows the continued transport embargoed goods to and from North Korea.
When White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to a clarification request from the press that day, she simply said, “President Trump likes Chairman Kim, and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.” The result: even more confusion.
It wasn’t until later in the day that the Trump administration made another effort to clarify the president’s tweet by stating that it did not refer to the sanctions against North Korea announced Thursday but to additional sanctions that were expected to be announced against the regime shortly.
The use of Twitter these past two years to convey the president’s thoughts on matters of foreign policy, as well as the knee-jerk reaction within the media, is enough to make any corporate compliance officer’s head spin. As rapidly as the administration and federal agencies themselves must respond to possibly inaccurate tweets, so do these executives in order to ensure that their companies maintain an accurate export compliance program, not just in the U.S. but overseas.
For those companies with ill-equipped compliance programs, misinformation will only breed noncompliance within their supply chains.