June 26, 2019: FedEx Corp, the US parcel delivery firm, has sued the US government against the prohibitions imposed on it by the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). The filing was done at the District of Columbia after FedEx's package containing a Huawei phone sent to the United States was returned last week to its sender in Britain, in what FedEx stated it as an "operational error".
FedEx's suit and delivery error have come against the backdrop of increasing trade tension between the US and China. The countries have been engaged in a trade fight for nearly a year on issues such as tariffs, subsidies, technology, regulations, and cybersecurity.
FedEx noted that the EAR violate common carriers' rights to due process under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution as 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 make-up of contents of all the shipments it handles and whether they comply with the EAR.
As per the filing, export restriction rules essentially deputize FedEx to police the contents of the millions of packages it ships daily even though doing so is a virtually impossible task, logistically, economically, and in many cases, legally.
As a company, FedEx strongly supports the objectives of US export control laws. It has invested heavily in internal export control compliance program. However, the company believes that the EAR, as currently constructed and implemented, place an unreasonable burden on FedEx to police the millions of shipments that transit its network every day.