A Trade War on Two Fronts: U.S. Considers More Tariffs on European Goods

Opening Salvos: The Proposed Tariffs

On June 26, 2020, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) published a notice that it is considering new tariffs on exports such as olives, coffee, beer, gin, and trucks coming into the United States from France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom.[1] The list of potential targets also includes various types of bread, pastries, cakes, and other baked products. That new list of goods may face duties of up to 100%, potentially doubling the price of certain goods [2] The announcement caused European stocks to fall, particularly for shares of beverage companies, luxury goods companies, and truck makers. Continue Reading

Another COVID-19 Enforcement Tool: Money Laundering Law

This article originally appeared on Law360 on June 9.

The novel coronavirus and resulting global health pandemic and economic crisis created a perfect storm for bad actors to engage in fraud and financial crimes. Law enforcement’s response to the criminal activity spurred by the pandemic and economic stimulus and relief efforts are still nascent and focusing on low hanging frauds by individuals and small groups. Continue Reading

CFIUS UPDATE ISSUE — Well I Do Declare: Mandatory Declarations Everywhere

On May 21, 2020, a proposed rule change brought the threat of a mandatory CFIUS filing to investments across all U.S. industries. The U.S. Department of Treasury proposed a rule[1] that removes a restriction formerly in the Foreign Risk Review Modernization Act’s (FIRRMA) that limited mandatory filings with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to only 27 industries.

The proposed rule is consistent with a series of changes by the Trump Administration aimed at decreasing Chinese access to U.S. technology (through export controls, FDI review, and other restrictions). However, the rule change may create complications for investments from a wide range of countries. Continue Reading

CFIUS UPDATE ISSUE — CFIUS Scrutiny in Biotech: The Ekso Case and the Eye of the Terminator

Robotic exoskeletons may augment human strength, endurance, and mobility. The latest CFIUS action has all the makings of a Terminator movie.

This month, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) pushed back on a U.S. and Chinese joint venture (“JV”) in the biotech sector. The U.S. party to the JV, Ekso Bionics Holdings, Inc., is developing exoskeleton technology for medical and industrial uses. However, CFIUS required a termination of that JV with facilities in China and investments by Chinese partners. Continue Reading

Huawei Whack-A-Mole: The U.S. Takes Another Swing at the Chinese Semiconductor Industry

On Tuesday, May 19, the U.S. Commerce Department published a regulation (effective May 15, 2020) that prohibits sale to Huawei of a microchip made to a Huawei specification, made outside the United States with non-U.S. materials, sent from a foreign country, by a foreign person.

To quote the philosopher, hol’ up.

How is that even possible? Continue Reading

Securing the U.S. Bulk Power System: An Assessment of Executive Order 13920

On May 1, 2020, President Trump issued Executive Order 13920 (“Executive Order”), which prohibited certain transactions involving bulk-power system electric equipment manufactured or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction of a foreign adversary that poses an undue risk of catastrophic effects on the security or resiliency of U.S. critical infrastructure or the national security of the U.S.  The Executive Order poses several potential problems for electric industry participants, particularly renewable generation owners, developers and investors, which will likely cause uncertainty in equipment procurement decisions.  The Executive Order and its potential issues are discussed below. Continue Reading

Sick without Symptoms: How Multi-Million Dollar Customs Issues are Ailing U.S. Companies Without Warning

Is your company in a high-risk zone? Does it have the following risk characteristics?

Your company imports more than $10 million of goods.
You are mid-market: between $50 million and $2 billion in annual turnover.
Your company has experienced higher than average growth in revenues, personnel, or imports over the past 2 – 10 years.

If your company fits this profile, you may be at an elevated risk of customs violations. Many companies in this high-risk zone have outgrown their customs compliance function. Without knowing it, they may be creating violations and, since the statute of limitations is five years, they may not know about the violations until the government comes knocking on their door years after the fact. Continue Reading

FCPA Landmines Beneath the Surface of the COVID-19 Crisis

COVID-19 took the world by surprise and continues to spread across the globe in more than 210 countries and counting.  The outbreak in the United States escalated rapidly, with over 585,000 confirmed cases as of April 14, 2020.  The federal government and a number of hard-hit states were caught off guard, and soon learned that their inventories of personal protective equipment (“PPE”) and other life-saving equipment such as test kits and ventilators were insufficient to keep pace with the pandemic.  The demand for equipment to fight COVID-19 skyrocketed and government and commercial entities have shifted into high gear to respond.  Whether motivated by humanitarian concern or commercial enterprise, many state and local governments, companies and individuals are now looking abroad to procure critical supplies on an expedited basis.  At the same time, many foreign industrial manufacturers are positioning themselves for the high demand of exports by adapting their facilities to produce PPE.  For example, Chinese electric car maker BYD announced on March 13, 2020 it is now the largest face mask factory in the world—less than one month after converting its facilities in response to the pandemic.  In the midst of these exigent circumstances, the global supply chain landscape is replete with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act landmines—and well-intentioned companies hoping to partner with foreign PPE manufacturers could become a casualty if they don’t watch their step. Continue Reading

The CFIUS Book: Second Edition (Slight Delay)

The pandemic that has put our world a bit sideways has, as you might expect, set back our publication date. We should have paper copies of the (much anticipated) CFIUS Book: Second Edition available by mid-May 2020. However, because we have the text ready, we will publish a series of preview excerpts for your review and, of course, as teasers for the New York Review of Books.

In this excerpt we discuss a new decision that investors will face as they approach investment in the United States, whether to file a full Joint Voluntary Notice or to file a short-form Declaration, also sometimes referred to as “CFIUS Lite.”

Please don’t hesitate to reach out and tell us what you think.

— Reid Whitten Continue Reading

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