FedEx sues U.S. Department of Commerce

FedEx has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Commerce to stop it from enforcing certain export restrictions against the company.

In a statement, FedEx didn’t name Huawei specifically but the filing comes after the company has botched Huawei-related shipments on at least two occasions.

FedEx said in the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, that the entity list “imposes an overbroad, disproportionate burden” on the company, burdens that come from the EAR not including a common carrier exemption.

A large portion of international shipments go through domestic FedEx facilities like its Memphis hub, it said, meaning the items become subject to those restrictions during transit.

FedEx further argued that the EAR violate the rights to due process of common carriers like FedEx under the Fifth Amendment. The regulations “unreasonably hold common carriers strictly liable for shipments that may violate the EAR without requiring evidence that the carriers had any knowledge of any violations,”.

“This puts an impossible burden on a common carrier such as FedEx to know the origin and technological make-up of contents of all the shipments it handles and whether they comply with the EAR,” the company said.

FedEx said in its suit that the law typically protects carriers from liability “for the contents of packages and communications they transmit, such as internet service providers and telecommunications companies.” Huawei sells telecommunications equipment, smartphones and other devices.

FedEx said it supports the objectives of export control laws and invests heavily in compliance related to that. But it added that the current EAR places too much of a burden on FedEx to vet its millions of shipments daily.

“FedEx is a transportation company, not a law enforcement agency,” the company said.

The filing says the company wants an order blocking the U.S. Department of Commerce from enforcing certain EAR provisions against FedEx as necessary to address the company’s concerns.

“We have not yet reviewed the complaint, but nevertheless look forward to defending Commerce’s role in protecting U.S. national security,” a Department of Commerce spokesperson said.

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