Canada Imposes Additional Sanctions Targeting the Belarusian Economy


Authors: Kahina Haroune, Lydia Blois and Benjamin Bedard

The Government of Canada recently imposed additional restrictions on key sectors of the Belarusian economy and minimized Belarusian state actors’ access to international finance under its existing sanctions on Belarus.

Belarusian Sanctions

On August 9, 2021, the Government of Canada expanded its existing sanctions regime under the Special Economic Measures Act (“SEMA”) with respect to Belarus. The new measures target key financial sectors, including prohibiting the importation or purchase of any Belarusian petroleum products and potassium chloride products. The new sanctions also target debt financing, transferable securities, and money market instruments in relation to Belarus, and prohibit providing insurance and re-insurance to the Belarusian government and public bodies. Canada’s measures are being taken in coordination with the United States and the United Kingdom, and follow similar sanctions imposed by the European Union near the end of July 2021.

These sanctions mark the first anniversary of Belarus’s presidential election in August 2020, which was widely regarded as fraudulent, and after which followed repressive conduct by the Belarusian government against its people. The Government of Canada has imposed these measures to apply further pressure on Belarus’s leadership to seek a peaceful and democratic resolution to the crisis.

The Belarus Regulations currently impose sanctions on 5 entities and 72 individuals in response to “gross and systematic violations of human rights” occurring in Belarus. In addition to these new financial measures, the sanctions also continue to impose an asset freeze, prohibiting persons in Canada, and Canadians outside of Canada, from engaging in any activity related to any property of these entities and/or individuals.

Background on Belarusian Sanctions

For further background to these sanctions, please see the previous article from June 22, 2021, “Canada Imposes Additional Sanctions on Belarus”.[1]

Canada’s Sanctions Regime

Sanctions are key tools for the international community to support peace and security and enforce international laws and norms. The Government of Canada imposes sanctions through three statutes, the SEMA, the United Nations Act (“UNA”), and the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act.

Canada has imposed SEMA sanctions that target 13 countries and UNA sanctions that target 12 countries and various terrorist entities. Canada has imposed sanctions on 70 foreign nationals under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act.

Canadian companies that do business overseas should actively monitor their supply chains for potential sanctions risk. In particular, all Canadian companies with links to a country where Canadian sanctions are in place should have a compliance program that accounts for the level of risk associated with their operations.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about compliance with sanctions imposed by Canada, please contact the authors of this article.