CLIENT ALERT: Iran Sanctions Are Back On: Can Business Continue?

The Prohibitions

On May 8, 2018, the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and reimposed all pre-JCPOA sanctions against Iran. We provide a detailed discussion of the reimposition in our article linked here (and linked here is our prediction, a year earlier, that it would happen). After a prescribed wind-down period, all U.S. sanctions on Iran are now in force. Effectively, U.S. sanctions on Iran now return to their pre-2016 levels, including secondary sanctions on non-U.S. companies transacting with the Government of Iran and many of Iran’s industries and financial institutions. Continue Reading

FIRRMA Takes Form as CFIUS Enacts a New Pilot Program Targeting “Critical Technologies”

  • On October 10, 2018, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States put into effect the first mandatory filing requirement ever imposed by CFIUS. The Department of Treasury’s summary of the Pilot Program is available here.
  • Effective November 10, 2018, CFIUS will require reviews of critical technology investments – including certain non-controlling investments – from any country.
  • A failure to file notice or a new short form declaration to CFIUS may result in a civil monetary penalty up to the value of the transaction.
  • The requirements will not apply to any transaction that is completed prior to November 10, 2018 or any transaction for which the material terms were established prior to October 11, 2018.

Background

On August 13, 2018, President Trump signed FIRRMA into law. FIRRMA is a transformational expansion of the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review certain transactions that previously eluded the Committee’s jurisdiction (discussed in our blog, here). Congress left many critical aspects of the FIRRMA framework to be addressed through regulations promulgated by the Department of Treasury. Although we do not expect final rules to be forthcoming until late 2019 or early 2020, Congress empowered the Department of Treasury to “test-drive” parts of FIRRMA through Pilot Programs. Those programs can be implemented simply, taking effect 30 days after publication of the program requirements in the Federal Register. The adoption and implementation of the Pilot Program for critical technologies represents the Department of Treasury’s first attempt to implement substantive parts of FIRRMA prior to issuing formal regulations. Continue Reading

The New NAFTA: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)

A tripartite agreement to save the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has just been reached. Since June 2017, the United States, Canada, and Mexico have been renegotiating NAFTA. After over a year of negotiations, late on Sunday night, September 30, 2018, Canada agreed to sign the revised agreement. That agreement is called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. Continue Reading

FCC’s Foreign Media Reporting Requirements: Extension of FARA or New Domain?

On September 4, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission issued a new rule requiring foreign media outlets to submit reports to the FCC disclosing their relationships with foreign principals. The notice was issued pursuant to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.[1] Continue Reading

The Latest U.S. Sanctions on Russia

A double agent. Nerve gas. Violations of international law. The recently imposed sanctions on Russia have all the makings of a James Bond movie but, unfortunately, those sanctions may cause some less-than-entertaining headaches for your business.

Why These Sanctions

On August 8, the U.S. State Department notified Congress it would impose new sanctions on Russia based on the U.S. Government’s determination that the Russian Government has used chemical and biological weapons in violation of international law. That determination was made under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (“CBW”) after the Russian government’s use of the “Novichok” nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen (and double agent to Russia and the UK) Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal. Continue Reading

Expanding CFIUS: New Law Strengthens And Slows Investment Review

This week, you have likely heard about FIRRMA, the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, the law that will expand CFIUS. We have written about a number of aspects of the new law as it was being made, including the following:

In this alert, we provide a quick overview of the major points of that law. Continue Reading

Life in the Fast Lane: CFIUS-Free Investments, if You’re From the Right Country

All this past week, you have been hearing about FIRRMA, the new legislation that will increase the powers of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States that is expected to be signed into law in the coming weeks. As we predicted here and here, FIRRMA will authorize CFIUS to review non-controlling investments by foreign companies, to enhance restrictions on investment in certain “critical technology,” to target real estate deals in proximity to sensitive U.S. Government sites, and to require mandatory filings for certain investments by foreign government-owned entities. Continue Reading

Of Course You Know, This Means War: A Strategic Update on the Trump Trade War

This article suggests steps you should take to survive the current trade war. We are now in a trade war regardless of the fact that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would rather we call it “a situation of trade disputes.” Trade disputes are what we had from approximately 1945 to 2017: a relatively stable world trading order in which differences over unfair trade practices were mostly worked out under existing remedies, such as the antidumping and countervailing duties regimes. What we have now is a period of escalating tit-for-tat tariff increases in which the old trading norms are being increasingly rejected, exempted, and undermined. And it is those very norms that kept us out of trade wars for the last 70 years. Continue Reading

Stuck in the Middle With You: EU Blocking Statutes, Iran Sanctions, and the Thousands of Businesses Caught In Between

Imagine telling your company’s Board of Directors that the company will have to knowingly violate the law. Further, you might note, the American Law Institute’s Principles of Corporate Governance state that, with very limited exceptions, a director who knowingly causes the corporation to disobey the law violates his duty of care. The protections of the Business Judgement Rule may not be available to a board member who, charged with navigating the Scylla and Charybdis of a conflict of laws, steers right into the shoals of noncompliance.

Beginning August 6, that will be the situation facing the thousands of companies that are subject to U.S. sanctions on Iran and to EU regulations blocking those sanctions. While it appears to be a stark choice, some nuances to the regulations may make navigating the narrow straights of the conflict of laws a less Odyssean and more practically manageable. Continue Reading

5 Weird Things About the Trump Trade Agenda: Disruptive Innovation On a Global Scale

We’ll give him this: President Trump has an ambitious trade agenda. This fire has many irons in it, and some of them are getting hot. Here at the Global Trade Law Blog, we’ve been following trade law for approximately 250 years and we’ve never seen anything like it in breadth or scale. The administration asks us to trust that there is a disruptive and innovative grand strategy behind it, but to some of us it looks (particularly in comparison to a mostly orderly international trading system in place since 1945) like madness. The question of whether “yet there is method in’t” may only be answered by future historians. For the time being, herewith is our snapshot of the Trump trade agenda, late June 2018 edition. Continue Reading

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