UK Accounting Glossary
Economic sanctions (synonym: embargo) are commercial and financial penalties applied by one or more countries against a targeted self-governing state, group, or individual.
In international commerce, an embargo is a government-mandated sanction that restricts trade with a foreign county.
An embargo can restrict imports, or exports, or both. The rationale for an embargo is political punishment of a country. For instance, the 1973 oil crisis affecting the United States resulted from OPEC’s embargo on oil sales to the US in retaliation for providing military assistance to Israel. The embargo is prone to hurt the domestic industries affected by the policy and to invite retaliation. The US uses the embargo in many specific contexts, particularly against countries it considers to be sponsors of terrorism. Less extreme restraints on free trade than the embargo, such as tariffs and export duties are even more common. The term embargo is sometimes misused to apply to a boycott, which is generally a grass-roots movement to cease purchasing from a business, also as a means of punishment.
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This glossary post was last updated: 9th February 2020.