CFIUS Proposes Rules to Implement FIRRMA

Key Takeaways:

  • Technology Infrastructure and Data. CFIUS will focus its review on investments in critical Technology, critical Infrastructure, and sensitive personal Data (“TID Businesses”).
    • Critical technologies is defined to include certain items subject to export controls along with emerging and foundational technologies under the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.
    • CFIUS provides a very helpful list of critical infrastructure and functions to help assess whether any business is a TID Business. We reproduce most of this list at the end of this blog article. (Sneak preview: telecom, utilities, energy, and transportation dominate the list.)
    • The proposed regulations provide much-needed guidance on what constitutes sensitive personal data and also seek to limit the reach of the definition so it does not cast too wide a net over transactions in which CFIUS really should have no national security concern.
  • Exceptions for Certain Countries. Investors from certain countries may be excepted from CFIUS jurisdiction when making non-controlling investments.
  • New Set of Rules for Real Estate. In a companion piece, CFIUS proposed for the first time a detailed set of rules related to investments in real estate. We will cover this in a separate blog article to be published in the near future.
  • Expansion of Short-Form Declaration Use. The proposed rules provide parties the choice to use a short-form declaration for any transaction under CFIUS jurisdiction in lieu of a long-form notice.
  • Comments Due by October 17, 2019. Members of the public may submit comments on the proposed regulations any time between now and October 17, 2019. Final regulations must be adopted by CFIUS and become effective no later than February 13, 2020.

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The U.S. Government Investigates U.S. Universities Participating in the “Confucius Institutes” Program

In July, the U.S. Department of Education Notices of Investigation to four U.S. universities seeking information on the “Confucius Institutes” operating on their campuses. The investigations center on provisions of the Higher Education Act requiring reporting of certain foreign gifts. But the investigations are part of a larger U.S. national security initiative to address foreign influence on U.S. campuses.

In light of these initiatives, the need is greater than ever to balance the sometimes-competing values of protecting U.S. national security and defending academic freedom. Because of the intense U.S. national security focus being trained on these organizations, U.S. colleges and universities are well advised to pay close attention to developments in this area. Continue Reading

A Chinese Export License to Get a Smart Phone? Tech-Tonic Changes in World Export Controls

“A free and open economy is the foundation of global peace and prosperity.”
– Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, G20 summit, June 2019.

On July 1, 2019, only few days after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened the G20 summit with a speech endorsing an open global economy, the Japanese government announced that it will impose tighter controls on technology-related exports from Japan to South Korea for reasons of national security. The controls may have a devastating effect on trade between the two countries and will create further drag on the world economy. Continue Reading

How to Steal $10 Billion from Europe

Europe has come up with a nifty plan to help Iran buy and sell stuff outside the reach of U.S. sanctions. The problem is that the plan is a fraud magnet. How do we know? It’s been tried before, and the fraud was epic.

The plan is known as the “Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges,” or “INSTEX.” Lots of smart people have been involved in creating the program. Let’s hope they’re not too young to remember 1995, when fraudsters first heard that the UN was setting up a program known as “Oil-for-Food.” Similar to INSTEX, Oil-for-Food was designed to allow a sanctioned country (in that case, Iraq) to sell oil on the world market in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods. A 2005 independent audit of the program found a staggering variety of fraudulent schemes netting billions of dollars in income for illicit merchants, intermediaries, and the Saddam Hussein regime itself. If INSTEX is not careful, it could be the victim of similar scams. Continue Reading

ICE May Visit Your Company or University Campus – a Quick Checklist and Guidance

Lately, ICE has been more active in making arrests of undocumented individuals. Statistically however, the number of arrests are very small and the “bark” is much bigger than the “bite.” Nonetheless, it is helpful for employers and other stakeholders to know what the required protocols and duties are if ICE shows up, employee rights, and bystander rights. Below is a quick checklist to help you along with important guidance.

Major Points

  • Immigration is a civil matter, not criminal. The majority of ICE warrants are administrative civil warrants.
  • ICE priorities are arresting those with criminal convictions and those who have been previously ordered removed (absconders). ICE may pursue these activities in public areas.
  • Anybody arrested by ICE has the right to counsel.
  • ICE agents are federal employees that are working as directed. Nonetheless, it is the policy of most employers that ICE activities focusing on the personal immigration issues of an individual shall not take place on company property.
  • If an ICE agent does attempt to arrest someone on company property, do not interfere as that will complicate matters. However, please contact your manager and they will coordinate with HR and Legal. Continue Reading

China Trade War Scorecard: Keeping Track of Tariffs

With round after round of tariffs on Chinese goods, announcements, removals, exclusions, delays, increases and, of course, tweets regarding all of the above, it can be easy to get lost on where, exactly, things stand with respect to Tariffs implemented under Section 301 of the Trade Act. Below we provide a brief overview and reference chart, complete with links to the relevant notices. We will update the chart as the U.S. government adds, removes, or changes the tariffs.

** Updated as of September 3, 2019 **

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Hua-Wait a Minute: Entity Designation Affects Non-U.S. Manufacturers’ Exports to China Tech Giant

On May 16, 2019, a sweeping U.S. export control rule went into effect that will impact the U.S. tech industry, but may also create an outsized risk for non-U.S. manufacturers. The rule, issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) adds Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (Huawei) and 68 of its affiliates to the Entity List. That designation effectively prohibits the export, reexport, and retransfer of all U.S.-origin “items subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR)” to those entities. The designation arises from a U.S. government finding that the restrictions are warranted on U.S. national security and foreign policy grounds. Continue Reading

INTERNATIONAL TECH INVESTMENT ISSUE – Threats to Technology Investment from Global Politics: How to Succeed as Borders Tighten

Over the past year, the impact of international political risks on the global tech industry has been unprecedented.”
Tung Tzu-hsien, Chairman of iPhone’s Chinese assembly company, Pegatron

Technology investment is getting harder. A few years ago, strategic and private equity technology acquisitions, multinational joint venture creation, and cross-border R&D collaboration were not only relatively straightforward, they were an economic engine driving the global technology economy.

Now, U.S. export controls, technology transfer restrictions, CFIUS and other investment reviews, and tariffs and non-tariff barriers have begun to limit the options for successful transactions in the tech sector. In this article, we examine the new and emerging challenges and suggest a strategies for navigating the changing currents of global trade and politics to get your deal done despite the shifting landscape. Continue Reading

INTERNATIONAL TECH INVESTMENT ISSUE – Investments With Borders: CFIUS-Style Foreign Investment Review Goes Global

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, CFIUS, is the U.S. government agency that conducts national security reviews of foreign direct investment in the United States. The CFIUS rules have been significantly tightened over time, which has created major obstacles, particularly to technology investments, and particularly for Chinese investors.

But as investors turn elsewhere looking for more a more streamlined investment process, they may be disappointed. Around the world, countries are creating new laws, or dusting off old ones, to allow their governments to examine and restrict foreign investment.

This article presents an overview of the emerging (or reemerging) foreign investment legal regimes in the EU – including domestic laws in France, Germany, Italy and the UK – Canada, Norway, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. For brevity in this article, we summarize our analysis in graphics and tables. However, we recommend that investors obtain a thorough legal analysis from local counsel before proceeding with an investment in any of the countries discussed here. Continue Reading

INTERNATIONAL TECH INVESTMENT ISSUE – A Wave of Export Regulation to Hit US Technologies

This article originally appeared in Risk & Compliance magazine in the UK, a publication of Financier Worldwide. The piece includes UK spelling and grammar.

Key Takeaways:

A wave is coming. An enormous wave of regulation will soon crash on Silicon Valley, Boston and other tech centres around the United States, and very few people have their surfboards ready.

Major technologies in exciting emerging fields (among them, biomedicines, virtual reality, and robotics) will soon be subject to strict export controls that will limit who can receive the technologies, who can use them, and even who can research them.

Forthcoming export controls will disrupt logistics planning, information sharing, R&D, and acquisition strategies for companies in the United States and all around the world. Continue Reading

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