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Mario Torrico is an associate in the Government Contracts, Investigations, and International Trade Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

The U.S. photovoltaic (PV) industry, solar module suppliers, manufacturers, and renewable energy developers are facing new regulatory challenges with the implementation of new legislation which has a significant impact on such imports. Among the most significant is the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, Pub. L. No. 117-78, 135 Stat. 1525 (2021) (“UFLPA”), whose provisions became fully effective on June 21, 2022.

Continue Reading Is the U.S. solar industry ready to prove its panels aren’t made with Uyghur forced labor?

On Monday, President Biden issued an Executive Order suspending the collection of anti-dumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) of certain solar cells and modules exported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Executive Order comes on the heels of a Commerce Department investigation initiated back in March 2022 into whether solar cell and modules from the aforementioned countries were circumventing AD/CVD duties on solar cells and modules made in China. The anticircumvention investigation, however, will continue to run its normal course, and if circumvention is found, AD/CVD duties will not be imposed until the end of the 24 month period (or until the emergency is declared terminated) (see here).  

Continue Reading President Biden Suspends AD/CVD Duties on Solar Cells and Modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam

On Sunday, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced novel and sweeping sanctions on specific categories of services in order to cripple Russia’s wartime capabilities and sanctioned key individuals at Russian banks and state-owned television stations. Concurrently, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) made available for public inspection a final rule expanding export restrictions by imposing a license requirement for exports, reexports, or transfers (in-country) to and within Russia on additional items subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

Continue Reading Novel Sanctions Against Business-Related Services Connected to Russia and Additional Export Restrictions

Last week, the United States government imposed additional restrictions on the imports from, and exports to, Russia. The import changes stem from the Suspending Normal Trade Relations with Russia and Belarus Act, signed into law by President Biden, that increase the duties for products that claim Russia or Belarus as their country of origin. In terms of exports, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued a press release last Saturday announcing further controls on the export and reexport of U.S.-origin and certain foreign-produced commodities, software, and technologies to Russia and Belarus by amending the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). The expanded rule is currently under public inspection in the Federal Register and will be published tomorrow.

Continue Reading Additional Import and Export Restrictions in Response to Russia’s Aggression in Ukraine

Updated as of April 12, 2022

It has now been more than 40 days since the start of Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. Today, following the recent revelations of the atrocities committed in Bucha, Ukraine by Russian armed forces, the United States – in coordination with the G7 and the EU – imposed new sanctions on Russia (see here). The sweeping new sanctions seek to further restrict Russia’s access to dollars and put economic pressure on Putin to end the war. The sanctions include a ban on all new investment in Russia as well as designations of Russia’s largest financial institutions (i.e., Sberbank and Alfa Bank), critical state-owned enterprises, and Russian government officials and their family members, including Putin’s children.

Continue Reading U.S. and Allies Impose Additional Severe Costs on Russia for Atrocities in Ukraine

Today, in a rare demonstration of bipartisanship, the U.S. Senate passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (the “Act”) – the text of which was a compromise between Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Representative Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) – which had already passed the house on Tuesday of this week. Over the years, including most recently in February 2021 (see our post here), we’ve seen different attempts from both chambers to pass legislation prohibiting the imports of goods from Xinjiang or the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (“XUAR”) – a region in China where, per the U.S. Department of Labor and media reporting, the Chinese government has detained and persecuted more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. President Biden has signaled that he will sign this bill into law.

Continue Reading The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act: Congress Finally Takes Action

How do you tackle the complicated and often seemingly insurmountable problem of human rights abuses around the world? The U.S. Government typically uses a variety of tools: diplomatic efforts, international aid, sanctions, import restrictions on forced labor – the whole carrot-and-stick universe. Enter… Export Controls.

Continue Reading The Intersection of Export Controls and Human Rights: Combating the Misuse of Technologies to Curb Human Rights Abuses

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action last Monday, November 8, 2021, and sanctioned a Latvia-based exchange, Chatex, its associated support network, and two ransomware operators for facilitating financial transactions for ransomware actors. In total, OFAC designated Chatex and 57 cryptocurrency addresses (associated with digital wallets) as Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs). OFAC took this action pursuant to Executive Order 13694, issued in 2015, which provides broad sanctions authority to address the national security threat posed by malicious cyber-actors outside the United States.

Continue Reading OFAC Enforcement Impacts NFTs: As Crypto Enforcement Ramps Up to Combat Ransomware, Robust Compliance is Key

Background

Last Friday, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published more targeted guidance for digital asset companies related to compliance with sanctions and best practices for mitigating risks. This guide comes on the heels of OFAC’s first enforcement action against a cryptocurrency exchange, SUEX (which we discussed in our blog here). Given the rise of ransomware threats from malicious cyber-actors that are often linked to sanctioned countries and persons, the lack of very robust regulatory oversight of the virtual currency world, the emerging nature of the technologies, and the growth of the market, it is clear that OFAC hopes crypto companies will pay more attention to sanctions risks and compliance with the issuance of this guidance. While the guide covers a lot of familiar territory, we outline a few key takeaways below.

Continue Reading Sanctions Compliance for Crypto: OFAC Issues Guidance Targeting Virtual Currency Industry

Today, the United States Trade Representative issued a notice informing the importing community about a new Section 301 exclusion process and seeking comments from affected importers. The comment period begins on October 12, 2021, and ends on December 1, 2021.

Continue Reading Exclusions 2.0. The USTR Announces a New Section 301 Exclusion Process for Chinese Products

Companies are putting forth more effort, thought, commitment, and resources into environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) considerations across their business lines. The focus of ESG has primarily centered around climate change and sustainability, but the “S” in ESG is becoming increasingly important to consumers and other stakeholders. As global corporate citizens become more vocal about asserting their identity and values, it is critical to think about how their global trade and compliance policies and supply chains reflect those values. Issues like forced labor in the supply chain, third party diligence, and how to build an ethical culture are part and parcel of a strong compliance program. But these issues also present opportunities for companies to reflect their values in a fundamental way and speak to what consumers are demanding with their dollars.

Continue Reading ESG, Global Trade, and Forced Labor: Aligning Compliance with Company Values