Latest Developments on the U.S. Sanctions Front: Venezuela

Latest Developments on the U.S. Sanctions Front: Venezuela

By Melissa Miller Proctor 

On August 24th, the President signed an Executive Order entitled “Imposing Additional Sanctions with Respect to the Situation in Venezuela” in light of the recent human rights violations, public corruption, repression and persecution of the political opposition, and establishment of an illegitimate Constituent Assembly by the Government of Venezuela (“GoV”). These new sanctions target the government and the Venezuelan oil industry, prohibiting U.S. persons  from providing financing for, or dealing in: 

  • New debt with a maturity greater than 90 days of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (“PdVSA”);
  • Other new debt with a maturity greater than 30 days or new equity of the GoV or its political subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities such as the Central Bank of Venezuela and PDVSA, and any person owned or controlled by the GoV; 
  • Bonds issued by the GoV; and, 
  • Dividend payments or other distributions of profits to the GoV from any entity it owns or controls (directly or indirectly). 
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NAFTA 2.0 - The Latest Developments on the Renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement

NAFTA 2.0 - The Latest Developments on the Renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement

By Melissa Miller Proctor

The first round of the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) with Canada and Mexico has official drawn to a close, and the second round is scheduled for Mexico City in early September. U.S. companies doing business in Canada and Mexico are urged to monitor and stay abreast of new developments, and assess how proposed changes to the NAFTA could impact their products, operations and supply chains. The following provides a timeline of the NAFTA renegotiation process, and where we may be headed from here. 

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GUEST POST - What Multinational Executives Need to Know about Lula, Temer, and Labor Reform

GUEST POST - What Multinational Executives Need to Know about Lula, Temer, and Labor Reform

In the last week, Brazil has seen its fair share of ground shaking events.  Not only was former President (and expected Worker’s Party candidate for the presidency in 2018) Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva convicted of corruption, but the current president, Michel Temer, won a preliminary vote in committee to block the continuation of corruption charges against his own person.

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The Proposed Border Adjustment Tax Has Been Shelved

The Proposed Border Adjustment Tax Has Been Shelved

By Melissa Miller Proctor

On July 27, 2017, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced that the previously proposed Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) will not be included in the upcoming House tax reform effort. The announcement, which was made by way of a joint statement issued by Speaker Ryan, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hatch (R-Utah), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brady (R-Texas) and National Economic Council Director Cohn, stated that—

 

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The Renegotiation of the NAFTA Slated to Kick-Off in Mid-August

The Renegotiation of the NAFTA Slated to Kick-Off in Mid-August

By Melissa Miller Proctor

A recent U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) news release stated that the NAFTA renegotiation is planned to commence between August 16th and 20th, and it has been reported that there will be seven rounds of talks which will be held every three weeks in order to conclude the process before Mexico’s 2018 presidential elections. Last month, as we reported, the USTR published its specific objectives for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as required by the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015.

 

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USTR Releases Specific Objectives for the Renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

USTR Releases Specific Objectives for the Renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

By Melissa Miller Proctor

On July 17, 2017, the USTR published a summary of its specific objectives for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as required by the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. In its July 17th notice, the USTR acknowledged that the NAFTA, since its entry into force in 1994, contributed to the linking of the continent through trade and provided new market access opportunities for American farmers and ranchers; however, the USTR also stated that the NAFTA created new problems for many American workers as a result of the increase in trade deficits and closing of U.S. factories. U.S. companies doing business in Canada and Mexico, whether sourcing or marketing goods in those markets, should take note of these latest developments, assess how any modifications made to the NAFTA could impact their cross-border operations, and consider reaching out to members of Congress and other Government decision-makers to ensure that their interests are fully protected. 

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U.S. Companies Encouraged to Submit Public Comments on Free Trade Agreements, Bilateral Investment Treaties, and Preferential Trade Programs

U.S. Companies Encouraged to Submit Public Comments on Free Trade Agreements, Bilateral Investment Treaties, and Preferential Trade Programs

By Melissa Miller Proctor

Today, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the Department of Commerce published in the Federal Register a request for public comments on current U.S. free trade and investment agreements, preferential trade programs, and trade relations with countries that are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Currently, the United States is a signatory to the WTO, a party to 14 free trade agreements, and a party to 40 bilateral investment treaties. Written comments must be submitted on or before July 31, 2017. See 82 Federal Register 29622 (June 29, 2017). 

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Breaking News: USTR Formally Notifies Congress of the Administration's Intent to Renegotiate NAFTA

Breaking News: USTR Formally Notifies Congress of the Administration's Intent to Renegotiate NAFTA

By Melissa Miller Proctor

New U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) Robert Lightizer submitted a formal notification to Congress of the Trump Administration’s intent to initiate negotiations with Canada and Mexico to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) on May 18th. Following on the heels of that announcement, the USTR today published a request in the Federal Register for public comments by interested parties with regard to the renegotiation of the NAFTA. U.S. companies doing business in Canada and Mexico, whether sourcing or marketing goods in those markets, should take note of these latest developments, assess how any modifications made to the NAFTA could impact their cross-border operations, and consider submitting public comments to ensure to the USTR that their interests are fully protected.

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U.S. Treasury Department Publishes New List of Countries Requiring Participation in International Boycotts

U.S. Treasury Department Publishes New List of Countries Requiring Participation in International Boycotts

By Melissa Miller Proctor    

Companies doing business in the Middle East take note: on March 30th, the Treasury Department published its quarterly list of countries that require participation or cooperation with an international boycott. The primary boycott of concern today is the Arab League’s boycott of Israel. Even though many of the listed countries are WTO members and were required to shut down their Arab League offices as a condition of membership, many boycott-related requests are still being issued by government agencies and companies in these countries.

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Two New Executive Orders Issued & New Import and Export Leadership Nominees Announced

Two New Executive Orders Issued  & New Import and Export Leadership Nominees Announced

By Melissa Miller Proctor

A few notable developments and announcements on the international trade front took center stage late last week of which U.S. companies with multinational operations should be aware of: 

  • A new executive order that will give U.S. government agencies greater enforcement tools to combat trade violations; 
  • A new executive order requiring a report on foreign trading partners with which the U.S. had a significant trade deficit in goods and the major causes of the deficits; and, 
  • The announcement of nominees for the positions of Commissioner of Customs and Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration. 
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U.S. Exporters Reminded that License Code C32 Will No Longer Be Accepted in the Automated Export System on April 1st

U.S. Exporters Reminded that License Code C32 Will No Longer Be Accepted in the Automated Export System on April 1st

By Melissa Miller Proctor

Just a reminder to U.S., exporters that on April 1, 2017, License Code C32 will no longer be accepted into the Automated Export System (AES) as part of the Electronic Export Information (EEI) filing process, and filers reporting License Code C32 will begin receiving fatal errors on that date. In order to avoid any compliance hiccups during the U.S. export clearance process, U.S. exporters should ensure that they have made the required updates to their internal systems for self-filings of the EEI, or have confirmed that their authorized AES filers have made changes to their respective systems. 

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China’s ZTE Corporation Will Pay the Largest Amount of Civil Penalties and Criminal Fines Imposed to Date

China’s ZTE Corporation Will Pay the Largest Amount of Civil Penalties and Criminal Fines Imposed to Date

By Melissa Miller Proctor

ZTE Corporation, the largest telecommunications company in China, pled guilty on March 7th  to conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court involving illegal exports of U.S.-origin goods to Iran, and agreed to pay $890 million to the U.S. Government, which represents the largest criminal fine and civil penalties that have ever been assessed against a company for violations of U.S. export controls and economic sanctions.

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U.S. Customs Seizes Multiple Shipments from China for Infringement of U.S. Intellectual Property Rights

U.S. Customs Seizes Multiple Shipments from China for Infringement of U.S. Intellectual Property Rights

By Melissa Miller Proctor
    
Last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) import specialists and officers at the Port of Tacoma in the state of Washington seized shipments of goods from China that infringed U.S. trademarks, violated U.S. country of origin marking laws, and violated product safety standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). One of the shipments contained 120 pieces of furniture valued at $720,000 that infringed U.S. trademarks. The second consisted of microphones and cables with a value of more than $25,000 that were marked “Made & Manufactured in the U.S.A.” even though their outer cartons were marked “Made in China” and the commercial invoice and packing list specified China as the origin of the goods. The third shipment contained automotive headlamps valued at $80,000 that were not in compliance with NHTSA standards. CBP is responsible for enforcing roughly 500 trade laws and regulations on behalf of 47 government agencies—for CBP, the prevention of imports of counterfeit products and illicit goods continues to be a priority trade issue. 

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The WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement Enters into Force

The WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement Enters into Force

By Melissa Miller Proctor

On February 22nd, the WTO’s multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) formally entered into force and is expected to usher in new trade facilitation reforms by each of the signatory countries including the United States. Multinational companies and companies eager to expand into global markets should anticipate significant regulatory changes ahead! The TFA is intended to reduce regulatory requirements, increase transparency in customs procedures, and expedite the international movement, release, and clearance of goods around the world. The TFA also calls for increased cooperation between the countries’ customs authorities on trade facilitation and compliance issues and provides technical assistance to developing and lesser developed countries. The WTO estimates that full implementation of the TFA by the signatory countries will reduce global trade costs by 14.3 percent, increase imports and exports by up to $1 trillion per year, reduce import clearance times by 47 percent, and slash export clearance times by 91 percent of the current average. 

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BIS Extends Temporary General License for Two ZTE Companies until March 29th

BIS Extends Temporary General License for Two ZTE Companies until March 29th

By Melissa Miller Proctor

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has decided to extend the temporary general license for two Entity List parties, ZTE Corporation and ZTE Kangxun, until March 29, 2017. This means that companies may continue exporting and reexporting to these firms without first having to secure a license from the BIS under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Last Spring, ZTE Corporation, the second largest telecommunications company in China, was added to the BIS’ Entity List, along with three of its affiliated companies: 

  • ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications, Ltd.
  • ZTE Parsian
  • Beijing 8-Star International Company
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European Parliament Approves New Free Trade Agreement with Canada

European Parliament Approves New Free Trade Agreement with Canada

By Melissa Miller Proctor

On February 15th, the European Parliament voted in favor of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union (EU) and Canada. European and Canadian companies will soon be afforded new trade benefits once the agreement formally goes into force.

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U.S. Commerce Department Imposes New Document Requirements on U.S. Companies Doing Business in Hong Kong

U.S. Commerce Department Imposes New Document Requirements on U.S. Companies Doing Business in Hong Kong

By Melissa Miller Proctor

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) recently published a rule that will soon impose new documentation requirements on companies that ship certain goods to, or reexport certain items from, Hong Kong. The rule is slated to take effect on April 19, 2017; therefore, affected companies will have a little time to adjust their operations and processes to the new requirements.

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New U.S. Sanctions Imposed on Iran in Response to Recent Testing of Ballistic Missiles

New U.S. Sanctions Imposed on Iran in Response to Recent Testing of Ballistic Missiles

By Melissa Miller Proctor

Today, the Trump Administration imposed new sanctions on Iran for its testing last weekend of ballistic missiles. Last Sunday, On Sunday, Iran launched the Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile from a test site located approximately 140 miles east of Tehran, which traveled 600 miles before exploding. The missile test violated U.N. Resolution 2231 that was issued on July 20, 2015, which bars Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests for a period of eight years. This was Iran’s second missile test (the first one occurring in July 2016), and the first test made under the Trump Administration. 

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OFAC Publishes Cyber-Related General License 1

OFAC Publishes Cyber-Related General License 1

By Melissa Miller Proctor

 

The Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published Cyber-Related General License 1 as part of the Cyber-Related Sanctions Regulations in Title 31 C.F.R. 758. The issuance of this General License is critical for U.S. companies that market computers, software, telecommunications devices and similar products in the Russian Federation, as it allows U.S. persons to submit encryption notification requests and import license applications to Russia’s Federal Security Service (a.k.a. FSB), which are required under Russian law, without violating the U.S. cyber-related sanctions on Russia. 

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UK Publishes White Paper Outlining the Roadmap for Brexit

UK Publishes White Paper Outlining the Roadmap for Brexit

By Melissa Miller Proctor

This week, the United Kingdom (UK) published an official white paper setting out its Brexit plan, which establishes the key principles that will guide the government in its departure from the European Union (EU). This document outlines the 12 key principles that will govern the EU departure process. 

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