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FedEx lawsuit says EAR violates common carrier status

Express carrier giant argues when it comes to compliance with the Export Administration Regulations that it’s “a transportation company, not a law enforcement agency.”

   FedEx Corp. on Monday filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia against the Commerce Department for enforcing export control regulations against the global express carrier.
   Specifically, FedEx said the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) violate common carriers’ rights to due process under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution since they “unreasonably hold common carriers strictly liable for shipments that may violate the EAR without requiring evidence that the carriers had knowledge of any violations.”
   “This puts an impossible burden on a common carrier such as FedEx to know the origin and technological makeup of the contents of all the shipments it handles and whether they comply with the EAR,” the company said in a statement regarding the lawsuit.
   The case follows FedEx’s recent refusal to ship a Huawei mobile phone from Britain to the U.S. The Chinese government has criticized the express carrier for the incident.
   The Trump administration’s recent crackdown on the Chinese telecom Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. for its alleged U.S. export control regulations violations and recent inclusion, along with 68 overseas affiliates, on the Commerce Department’s Entity List has compounded the export compliance quandary in which many U.S. companies now find themselves.
   FedEx said it “strongly supports the objectives of U.S. export control laws” and has “invested heavily in our internal export control compliance program.”
   “However, we believe that the EAR, as currently constructed and implemented, place an unreasonable burden on FedEx to police the millions of shipments that transit our network every day,” the company added. “FedEx is a transportation company, not a law enforcement agency.”   

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Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.