|Long title||An Act to define, regulate, and punish trading with the enemy, and for other purposes.|
|Enacted by||the 65th United States Congress|
|Effective||October 6, 1917|
|Public law||Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 65–91|
|Statutes at Large||40 Stat. 411|
The Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) of 1917 (40 Stat. 411, codified at 12 U.S.C. § 95 and 50 U.S.C. § 4301 et seq.) is a United States federal law, enacted on October 6, 1917, in response to the United States declaration of war on Germany on April 6, 1917. It continues to give the President of the United States the power to oversee or restrict any and all trade between the United States and its enemies in times of war. TWEA was amended in 1933 by the Emergency Banking Act to extend the president’s authority also in peace time. It was amended again in 1977 by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to restrict again the application of TWEA only to times of war, while the IEEPA was intended to be used in peace time.
TWEA is sometimes confused with the IEEPA, which grants somewhat broader powers to the President, and which is invoked during states of emergency when the United States is not at war. The IEEPA was passed in an attempt to rein in perceived abuses by the US President of the TWEA by making the powers subject to the National Emergencies Act (NEA). The NEA included a legislative veto to allow Congress to terminate a national emergency with a concurrent resolution. However, the U.S. Supreme Court found such legislative vetoes unconstitutional in Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha. Following the Court's decision, Congress amended the NEA to require a joint resolution.
The law set the basis for sanctions by the United States. As of 2023, Cuba is the only country restricted under TWEA. North Korea was removed from the provisions of TWEA in 2008, although restrictions under IEEPA authority remain in effect.
The United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. TWEA was enacted on October 6, 1917 and on October 22, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson by Executive Order 2729-A created the Office of Alien Property Custodian (APC) under TWEA with power to confiscate property from anyone whose actions might be considered a possible threat to the war effort. Initially, the Custodian confiscated the property of interned natives of Germany and of businesses, such as the Bayer chemical company. On December 7, 1917, the United States declared war on the Austria-Hungary Empire, the other Central Power.
In 1933, newly-elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Proclamation 2039, which declared a national emergency and imposed a bank holiday. The proclamation cited TWEA (obliquely referenced as the "Act of October 6, 1917") as the basis of his authority. Aware that such action was legally dubious since the United States was not at war, Roosevelt asked Congress to ratify his actions by passing the Emergency Banking Relief Act, which amended TWEA to enable its use during any "period of national emergency declared by the President." President Franklin D. Roosevelt, using these new authorities, issued Executive Order 6102 to limit gold ownership. These restrictions continued until January 1, 1975. The TWEA has been amended several other times.
During and after both World Wars, property frozen by the United States, belonging to neutral or allied nations, was returned and property belonging to enemy nations was continuously confiscated until hostilities ceased. Some of the confiscated enemy property would not be returned later. Agreements to return some or most assets in exchange for seized American assets and reparations for war-damaged American interests by the new governments of the former enemy nations were later concluded. Nations or organizations that were deemed less responsible for starting the wars receive much more favorable treatment. The United States instituted the Italian Enemy Act of 1947 to deal with former members of the Mussolini regime from controlling interest in U.S. based businesses under the TWEA Act of 1917.
On August 15, 1971, President Richard M. Nixon issued Proclamation 4074, which declared a national emergency under TWEA and imposed a 10% ad valorem supplemental duty on all dutiable articles imported into the United States.
Countries sanctioned under the Trading with the Enemy Act
Albania was invaded by the Central Powers during WW1. While the Central Powers occupied Albania, its assets from the areas they occupied were frozen to prevent the Central Powers from using Albanian assets. Because of this policy, once Central Powers occupation ended the sanctions were effectively lifted.
Andorra remained officially neutral during WW2. However, it was a tiny country between Axis-friendly Spain and the German puppet state Vichy France. Andorra was listed in 1941, to prevent its assets from being used by Nazi Germany and Vichy France, and was delisted in 1946.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire was sanctioned in 1917 as an enemy state. It continued to be sanctioned until after its defeat and dissolution in 1918 into Austria and Hungary. The United States remained at "war" with the then-nonexistent dissolved country for several years until deciding to ratify peace treaties with Austria and Hungary separately 1921. No actual combat is known to have taken place between the United States and Austria or Hungary after the empire's dissolution and before the ratification of the peace treaties.
Belgium's property was frozen in the event the property was from the areas the invading Central Powers occupied during WW1 to prevent the Central powers from using its assets. If the area was not occupied, the assets were not frozen. Because of this policy, once Central Power occupation ended the sanctions were effectively lifted.
Bulgaria was a German and Austro-Hungarian ally during WW1 and some of its property was frozen or confiscated by the United States. The United States and Bulgaria avoided declaring war on each other during WW1.
During WW2 Bulgaria was an axis power and was sanctioned again in 1941. Sanctions were lifted in 1945. In 1963 the government of Bulgaria agreed to accept American claims for lost property and war damages so the Bulgarians were allowed to reclaim the property America seized during WW2.
China was listed on two occasions. The Republic of China was first listed in 1941 to prevent invading Japan from using Chinese assets during WW2. China was delisted in 1946. After WW2 the People's Republic of China was sanctioned and listed in 1950 for their involvement in the Korean War. After President Richard Nixon's "opening with China" sanctions were lifted in 1975.
Following the Cuban missile crisis, the Bay of Pigs invasion, and the nationalization of U.S. property by the Castro regime, the United States imposed sanctions on Cuba in 1963. TWEA sanctions continued throughout the Cold War because the US and Cuba often found themselves on opposite sides in various proxy conflicts throughout Latin America and Africa. The sanctions on Cuba were increased after the Cuban air force killed American protesters who were known to violate Cuban airspace. Cuba is currently the only state still under sanctions under TWEA.
Czechoslovakia was invaded and annexed by Germany. In 1941 it was listed to prevent its assets from being used by the invading Nazi Germany. Czechoslovakia was delisted in 1946. Czechoslovakian assets were held until the government of Czechoslovakia agreed to return assets its German installed occupation government expropriated during WW2. These restrictions were lifted sometime between 1964 and 1967 after an agreement was reached.
Danzig was listed in 1941 to prevent its assets from being used by the Nazi Germany. Germany was forced to give up the city of Danzig after WWI. As a result of it being a former German city, there was a considerable amount of support for Nazi Germany to re-annex the territory within the mostly ethnic German Free City of Danzig. The annexation of Danzig happened early in WWII. Sanctions were continued until Danzig ceased to exist. Danzig was made part of Poland and renamed Gdańsk. Danzig's German inhabitants were expelled to Germany as part of the Soviet proposal to prevent the German diaspora outside German borders after WWI from helping start another world war by requesting annexation.
East Germany, or eastern Germany before 1949, and East Berlin origin assets were held until the government of East German agreed to return assets the Nazi German government expropriated during WW2. These restrictions were lifted sometime between 1964 and 1967 after an agreement was reached.
Estonia was listed in 1940, to prevent its assets from being used by the invading Nazi Germany, and was delisted in 1946. Estonian assets were held until the government of Estonia agreed to return assets its German installed occupation government expropriated during WW2. These restrictions were lifted sometime between 1964 and 1967 after an agreement was reached.
Finland was invaded in 1939 by the Soviet Union. As a result of this it allied itself with Germany against the Soviet Union during most of WW2. It was consequently sanctioned in 1941. Finland was considered an ally of an enemy under TWTEA until the Lapland war in which Finland changed sides. Finland would have then been eligible for the classification of "allies or neutrals" and delisted with the rest of that group in 1946.
During WW1, France's property was frozen in the event the property was from the areas occupied by the invading Central Powers to prevent the Central powers from using its assets. If the area was not occupied, the assets were not frozen. Because of this policy, once central power occupation ended the sanctions were effectively lifted. During WW2, France was listed in 1940 to prevent its assets from being used by the invading Nazi Germany. France was delisted in 1946.
The Empire of Germany was first sanctioned in 1917 for its role in WW1. Germany remained sanctioned until a U.S.-German peace treaty was ratified in 1921.
Nazi Germany was sanctioned again in 1941 for its role in WW2. Sanctions were lifted in 1946. As Germany was judged to have a primary role in starting both world wars, the United States policy was to confiscate and sell off German assets that Germans acquired before 1946.
The military government of Haiti led by General Raoul Cedras and affiliated members such as the CIA-created FRAPH, was listed under the International Economic Powers Act (IEPA Act), now with the Trading With the Enemy Act that has its roots in World War I and the EIPA Act during the Cold War between the US and the former Soviet Union. Many members of the Haitian Army who had properties in the US, their properties either frozen or confiscated by the Bill Clinton administration until they agreed to the return of deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Hungary was an axis power and sanctioned in 1941. Sanctions were lifted in 1945. Hungarian assets were held until the government of Hungary agreed to return assets it expropriated during WW2 and accept claims for war damages caused by Hungary.
Italy was an axis power until Italy was invaded and Mussolini's government deposed. Italy was sanctioned in 1941. Sanctions were lifted in 1943 after the allies installed a friendly government and it switched sides. Italy accepted an agreement to return expropriated American property and accept claims for war damages so it was allowed to reclaim its seized property.
In 1940 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt sanctioned Japan to punish it for invading China and French Indochina under the Export Control Act. In 1941, Roosevelt imposed sanctions under TWEA. Some claim that this was the reason for the attack on Pearl Harbor later in 1941. Sanctions were lifted in 1946. Japan was widely unpopular for the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Because Japan was the reason for the United States entering World War II, and due to the fact many Americans wanted to stay out of European wars during both wartime periods, Japanese assets that the Japanese acquired before 1946 were confiscated and sold.
Latvia was listed in 1940, to prevent its assets from being used by the invading Nazi Germany, and was delisted in 1946. Latvian assets were held until the government of Latvia agreed to return assets its German installed occupation government expropriated during WW2. These restrictions were lifted sometime between 1964 and 1967 after an agreement was reached.
Lithuania was listed in 1940, to prevent assets from being used by the invading Nazi Germany, and was delisted in 1946. Lithuanian assets were held until the government of Lithuania agreed to return assets its German installed occupation government expropriated during WW2. These restrictions were lifted sometime between 1964 and 1967 after an agreement was reached.
Montenegro was invaded by the central powers during WWI. While the central powers occupied Montenegro, its assets from the areas they occupied were frozen to prevent the central powers from using Montenegrin assets. Because of this policy, once central power occupation ended the sanctions were effectively lifted.
North Korea was sanctioned in 1950 for aggression in the Korean War. The war is still officially in effect, with no peace treaty signed, and the sanctions has been kept due to North Korean terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and continued aggression towards the United States. Trading with the Enemy Act sanctions were lifted in 2008 in response to North Korea's steps toward nuclear disarmament and commitments to continue dismantling its nuclear weapons program. However, North Korea later developed and tested several more nuclear weapons, indicating that it was lying. North Korea's designation was grandfathered from an old version of the law that allowed it to be used absent a declaration of war. Because there is no declaration of war between the United States and North Korea, TWEA sanctions cannot be reapplied, but it was re-sanctioned for reneging on its commitments through the IEEPA, along with other laws, and through UN Security Council resolutions.
The Ottoman Empire was in the Central Powers, an ally of the German Empire, Austro-Hungary and Kingdom of Bulgaria, which was sanctioned alongside its allies in 1917 with the act, though entering the war later on. The Ottoman Empire and the United States are not known to have fought each other during the war, except smaller-scaled naval conflicts and bombardments. And little, if any, property was seized from Ottomans as the Ottoman Empire had few resources to be seized that would contribute to the war and economic effort within the United States.
It was judged by the Office of the Alien Property Custodian that seizing the small amount of non-war related Ottoman property that was present in the United States at that time was counter-productive and would later on likely invite the Ottoman Empire onto seizing a larger amount of American property back as in-advance. Thus, the United States didn't want to provoke the Ottomans in such a way that would result in them possibly targeting US affiliates, companies, property and citizens living within the lands & areas they controlled in many ways, and prompt unnecessary mutual declarations of war.
They remained sanctioned even after their defeat by signing the Mudros Armistice in 1918 until their dissolution with the later-to-be revoked Peace Treaty of Sevrés in 1921, when the sanctions were no longer in-effect.
The Americans were not going to be directly involved in the Turkish War of Independence which would follow after the signing of Sevrés, nor implement any official sanctions but would support Ententé and Greek forces. Although not officially, a significant portion of the American Congress would later go on to criticizie and proclaim the Lausanne Declaration Treaty that would follow after the independence war as invalid, rejecting it by still supporting the post-European and colonial claims on Turkish lands in the Balkans and the Anatoli.
These rejections would later be disregarded, and the United States of America formally established normal & friendly relations with the newly established modern, and more Western-sided Turkish Republic in 1927.
Thus, the new Republic of Turkey was not affected by any American or Allied sanctions anymore, either shortly after the end of the Independence War and the signing of the Lausanne Treaty or during WWII.
Portugal was listed in 1941. Portugal was a British ally; however, it was officially neutral as part of an allied strategy to avoid costly and pyrrhic military commitments to defend the Iberian peninsula during WW2. Spain would have likely declared war on the axis side if Portugal entered on the allied side, opening a large and unnecessary front. While neutral, it traded raw materials used in military production with Germany, though it gave much more assistance and trade to the allies than the axis. Portugal was delisted in 1948.
Romania was invaded by the central powers during World War 1. While the central powers occupied Romania, its assets from the areas they occupied were frozen to prevent the central powers from using Romanian assets. Because of this policy, once Central Power occupation ended, the sanctions were effectively lifted. In WW2 Romania was an axis power and sanctioned in 1940. Sanctions were lifted in 1945. Romanian assets were held until the government of Romania agreed to return assets its government expropriated during WW2 and accept claims for war damage caused by Romania.
Romania has a long history of being misspelled by previous members of the government of the United States. Rumania and Roumania are common misspellings used in government documents.
The Russian Empire's property was frozen in the event the property was from the areas the invading Central Powers occupied during WW1 to prevent the Central Powers from using Russian assets. If the area was not occupied, the assets were not frozen. Because of this policy, once central power occupation ended the sanctions were effectively lifted.
Serbia was invaded by the central powers during World War I. While the central powers occupied Serbia, its assets from the areas they occupied were frozen to prevent the central powers from using Serb assets. Because of this policy, once Central Power occupation ended the sanctions were effectively lifted.
Thailand was sanctioned in 1941. Thailand was invaded by the Japanese and as a negotiated settlement to the conflict they became a Japanese ally during WW2. After Japan was defeated, Thailand's subsequent prime minister said the previous government didn't get a valid declaration of war and the previous prime ministers unilateral declaration was null and void. The Office of Alien Property considered Thailand enemy-occupied instead of an enemy power so it was delisted in 1946 and eligible to get its property back.
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
The Soviet Union was sanctioned several times under this act, though for a relatively short period of time. It was first listed in 1941 to prevent assets from being used by the invading Nazi Germany and other invading axis powers. The Soviet Union was delisted in 1946. Later it was sanctioned during four brief periods from 1972 to 1976 when other Presidential economic powers lapsed due to not being renewed by Congress during the cold war.
Franklin D. Roosevelt used the Trading with the Enemy Act to shut financial institutions and declare a "bank holiday" to prevent runs on the banks during the Great Depression in 1933. It was also used to outlaw most ownership of gold in an attempt to prop up the gold-backed dollar. The gold ownership ban was lifted by congressional amendment and gold was no longer used to back printed dollars. In 1968 Lyndon Johnson used the law to restrict capital exports. In 1971 Nixon used the TWEA for currency manipulation in an attempt to boost US exports. In 1982 the United States Treasury Department announced the termination of the Presidential Proclamations and executive orders for the emergencies relating to the 1933 Great Depression ending all domestically oriented Trading with the Enemy Act related programs.
- Espionage Act of 1917
- International Emergency Economic Powers Act
- Trading with the Enemy Act – an overview of such acts in several countries
- Senate Report 93-549
- War Powers Act (disambiguation) – links to other related acts
- "An Act with respect to the powers of the President in time of war or national emergency". Public Law No. 95-223 of December 28, 1977 (PDF).
- Casey, Christopher A.; et al. (March 20, 2019). The International Emergency Economic Powers Act: Origins, Evolution, and Use (PDF). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- "An act to authorize appropriations for fiscal years 1986 and 1987 for the Department of State, the United States Information Agency, the Board for International Broadcasting, and for other purposes.". Public Law No. 99-93 of August 16, 1985 (PDF). U.S. Congress. See also Coates, Benjamin A. (July 2018). "The Secret Life of Statutes: A Century of the Trading with the Enemy Act". Modern American History. 1 (2): 151–172. doi:10.1017/mah.2018.12. ISSN 2515-0456.
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- Davis, Stuart (2023). Sanctions as War: Anti-Imperialist Perspectives on American Geo-Economic Strategy. Haymarket Books. p. 132. ISBN 978-1-64259-812-4. OCLC 1345216431.
- "US to ease North Korea sanctions". BBC. June 26, 2008. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
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- Gross, Daniel A. (Spring 2015). "Chemical Warfare: From the European Battlefield to the American Laboratory". Distillations. 1 (1): 16–23. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
- "Declaring Bank Holiday". Presidential Proclamation No. 2039 of March 6, 1933.
- Harry S. Truman, Proclamation No. 2914, December 16, 1950, 15 Federal Register 9029
- "Records of the office of Alien Property". National Archives. August 15, 2016. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
- "Proclamation 4074—Imposition of Supplemental Duty for Balance of Payments Purposes". The Presidency Project. April 1, 2019. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
- Alien Property Custodian, United States (1919). Alien Property Custodian Report. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. pp. 7, 8. ISBN 9780405097645.
- "[USC10] 50 USC Ch. 53: TRADING WITH THE ENEMY". uscode.house.gov. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
- Coates, Benjamin A. (July 2018). "The Secret Life of Statutes: A Century of the Trading with the Enemy Act". Modern American History. 1 (2): 151–172. doi:10.1017/mah.2018.12. ISSN 2515-0456.
- Department of Justice, United States of America (1947). Annual Report Office of Alien Property. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. pp. 1, 2, 6, 7, 58.
- Department of Justice, United States (1963). Annual Report Office of Alien Property. Washington DC: Government Publishing Office. p. 18.
- Bly, Laura Bly (June 11, 1989). "No-No Travel". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
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- "North Korea hails 'perfect' H-bomb test". September 3, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
- Trask, Roger R. (1971). The United States Response to Turkish Nationalism and Reform, 1914-1939. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-6048-3. JSTOR 10.5749/j.ctttt9v7.
- Lippe, John M. Vander (1993). "The 'Other' Treaty of Lausanne: The American Public and Official Debate on Turkish-American Relations". The Turkish Yearbook of International Relations. 23: 31–63. doi:10.1501/Intrel_0000000176.
- "RG 84: Portugal". National Archives. August 15, 2016. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
- "Executive Order 11387—Governing Certain Capital Transfers Abroad | The American Presidency Project". www.presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
- (name [of the author] redacted) (August 20, 1996). "Presidential Emergency Powers: The So-Called"War Powers Act of 1933"" (PDF). everycrsreport.com. Retrieved May 18, 2019.
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- Jehl, Douglas (February 4, 1994). "Opening to Vietnam; Clinton Drops 19-Year Ban on U.s. Trade with Vietnam; Cites Hanoi's Help on M.i.a.'s". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 6, 2019.