Who would have thought that a little-known, 1930s-era law would suddenly become a household name? Not me. Not even as an attorney who counsels clients on compliance with the law and maintains a healthy (read: nerdy) interest in it.
As the Trump administration comes into its third month, we have clues, but must speculate on how that administration will modify Iran sanctions, NAFTA, foreign investment, and tariffs on China. In contrast, recently issued executive orders shed clear light on the Trump administration’s approach to antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD). (See our August 2016 blog for a general background on AD/CVD.)
As a candidate for President, Donald J. Trump was widely reported to despise the Iran nuclear agreement, which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As President, he responded to reports of Iranian missile tests by putting Iran “on notice.” While observers have speculated whether that portends a naval escalation in the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Aden, or perhaps some form of probation, the most likely next steps in our view will not include tearing up the nuclear agreement.
CFIUS has the power to unwind your M&A deal. That power will likely expand. That is the headline.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) reviews acquisitions by foreign parties of “critical industries” and “critical infrastructure” in the United States. The inter-agency committee’s actions warrant plenty of explanation, and you can find much of it here.
The Effects of Increased Tariffs
In the 18th Century, tariffs were considered a method of generating revenue and protecting domestic industry. The first U.S. customs duties were imposed in 1789, and were considered vital to the economic survival of the young nation. That mercantilist approach has since been overwhelmingly rejected by mainstream economists. Even by the time of the American Revolution, specialization and comparative advantage were being touted (including by Adam Smith, whose Wealth of Nations was published in 1776) as the true route to national prosperity.
“We must distinguish between the unlikely and the impossible.”
– P.G. Wodehouse
President Trump’s successive executive orders restricting immigration caught many people off guard, and many businesses had to scramble to react. But we propose that predicting the future is not as challenging under the new Administration as it may sometimes seem. For example, if you wished to know whether there would be an immigration ban (whether you favor or oppose immigration restrictions), you could do worse than to take the President at his word about what he is going to do: Candidate Trump promised immigration restrictions targeting, variously, Muslim people, Muslim majority countries, and countries listed as state sponsors of terrorism. Which countries would Mr. Trump target? Several of those listed could have been predicted in advance based on campaign promises. More broadly, a suspension of immigration from Syria and Libya was an explicit campaign promise, so certainly that much was predictable.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom by a majority of 8 to 3 has today confirmed that triggering the exit procedure from the European Union requires an Act of Parliament.
As such the Supreme Court disagreed with the current UK Government which had argued that Government ministers could rely on their prerogative powers to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union without prior authorisation by Parliament. Scottish Parliament, Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies had argued that they too should be consulted. The judges did not agree with that view.
Sheppard Mullin’s EU team has created a list of major legal shifts that await General Counsel and Compliance Officers in the areas of competition, EU regulatory and trade in 2017. These challenges may have an impact on your corporate and commercial strategies.
Our predictions include:
Boy, does it sound convincing when Mr. Trump states he will submit notice under section 2205 of NAFTA to let Mexico and Canada know that the U.S. will withdraw from NAFTA. The problem is, while the president-to-be is capable, we presume, of writing, signing, and sending (or possibly tweeting) such a notification, that notification would not have a legal significance because withdrawing from NAFTA, ab initio, is not a power accorded the President.
On January 10, 2017, Senate Republicans and Democrats introduced bi-partisan legislation called the “Countering Russian Hostilities Act of 2017,” which would impose broad sanctions on Russia. The Act would codify the sanctions President Obama imposed in response to the Russian cyberattack on the United States to influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and the Ukraine-related sanctions President Obama issued in 2014. Importantly, the legislation introduces beefed up economic sanctions against Russia’s energy and financial sectors.