Distinguishing Between Sanctions & Embargos

Sanction vs Embargo

The distinction between sanction and embargo is fascinating because although both terms have unique meanings, their general definitions sometimes differ depending on the context. Generally, sanction means granting permission for something. However, in an economic context, it refers to a ban or restriction on specific trade items. Embargo is an economic term meaning the complete or partial prohibition of trade. In this article, we will examine the differences between the terms Sanction and Embargo in more detail.

Key Takeaways

  • Sanctions are measures taken by a state to force another into doing something or granting official permission, while embargoes are official bans on trade, particularly with foreign countries.
  • Both sanctions and embargoes involve prohibiting or restricting certain items, but sanctions have broader applications and can also refer to penalties in legal contexts.
  • The primary distinction between the two terms is that sanctions have multiple uses and meanings, whereas embargoes are specifically economic in nature.

What does Sanction mean?

The Oxford dictionary defines sanction as measures taken by a state to force another into doing something or to grant official permission. When we look at those meanings, we see a contrast. In one way it prevents the happenings and, on the other hand, it gives permission to carry on something. However, we can identify the real meaning of the word by looking at the environment where it is used.
As mentioned above, in Economics, the word sanction is used to indicate a ban on trade items. This may not be applied to each and every item, but only for some. One country may prohibit importing certain items, usually weapons, from other countries and there we can see economic sanction. If we consider about the legal application of the sanction, it means penalties or other enforcement over particular individuals as a means of ensuring their obedience with the law. Capital punishment, fines, imprisonment are some of the sanctions regarding the law. Likewise, the meaning of the term sanction differs according to the environment in which it occurs.

What does Embargo mean?

Embargo is an official ban, especially with regard to foreign trade. One country may prohibit certain trade items of other countries and before exporting, each country should check whether the items are embargoes or not. Embargo is a situation that is more similar to economic sanctions. As economic sanctions prohibit importing of certain foreign items, embargo also limits the foreign trade. Any country, before exporting their goods, should check whether the item is embargoed  or not at the destination country. It is easier to obtain a license if possible, for the smooth functioning of the transaction. However, embargoes may not be permanent prohibitions and there can be changes over the time.

What is the difference between Sanction and Embargo?

When we take both terms together, we can identify similarities as well as differences. Both sanction and embargo mean prohibition or ban of foreign items, if we look at them in an economic point of view. Especially, the term sanction has a lot of other meanings with regard to other disciplines. However, in economic sense, both mean the same. Also, both terms suggest that a trader should be aware of the banned items before exporting their products. Moreover, both sanctions and embargoes may vary over the time. If we look at the differences in both terms,
• The major distinction is that the term sanction has a lot of usages whereas embargo is used as an economic term.
• The meaning of sanction can only be understood by reading the whole sentence and then we can understand the real meaning.
• In contrast, embargo, being an economic term, easily gives the meaning and usage.
• However, both terms can be used simultaneously, depending on the environment in which they are used.

Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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