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Reid is the Managing Partner of Sheppard Mullin's London office, practicing in international trade regulations and investigations.

If your company is like many, your board of directors may be demanding that you put more effort into environmental, social, and governance issues, which have become known by the now-ubiquitous acronym “ESG.” Those demands don’t come from nowhere: consumers are demanding transparency and social responsibility. In particular, if your company does business internationally, regulators are focused on international social justice issues (such as the use of forced labor) more than ever.

Continue Reading Does Your Trade Policy Support Your Company’s Values?

This is the second of three articles on the Solar Industry and Forced Labor. Here we focus on interactions with solar module suppliers. Our first article in the series focused on regulations in this area, and our next will focus on investors and their requirements.

Continue Reading Clean Energy’s Messy Problem II: The Solar Industry, I͟t͟s͟ S͟u͟p͟p͟l͟i͟e͟r͟s, and the Complex Task of Combatting Forced Labor

This is the first of three articles on the Solar Industry and Forced Labor. Here we focus on regulation. Articles in the coming weeks will focus on issues facing importers and their suppliers, and on investors and their requirements.

Continue Reading Clean Energy’s Messy Problem: The Solar Industry, the U.S. Government, and the Complex Task of Combatting Forced Labor

  • U.S. Customs halts the import of silica-based products from made by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. because the products are suspected of being produced using forced labor.
  • For future imports of solar energy equipment sourced from Xinjiang, China, the United States may use Withhold Release Orders (WROs) to block entry into the United States if there is reasonable suspicion of forced labor in the supply chain.
  • The renewables industry is working together and with regulators to find ways to certify its supply chains are free of forced labor.


Continue Reading Anti-Forced Labor Measures Turn Up the Heat on Chinese Solar Equipment Suppliers

  • New law could penalize companies for complying with U.S. sanctions.
  • Penalties include designation to China’s new “Unreliable Entity” list.
  • Statements against the new laws could also be penalized, restricting the capacity of counsel to advise freely on compliance with U.S. sanctions and Chinese countermeasures.

On June 10, 2021, China enacted the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law (“AFSL”), aimed at punishing countries that impose anti-China sanctions and the companies that comply with those sanctions. The law is effective immediately, and applies to any sanctions imposed against China, Chinese entities, or Chinese individuals by any third country (excluding sanctions adopted by the United Nations).

The AFSL comes in addition to the Measures on Blocking Unjustified Extraterritorial Application of Foreign Legislation (the Blocking measures) issued earlier this year. Those measures were mainly address the extraterritorial effect of U.S. sanctions against China, by punishing companies that comply with U.S. sanctions.
Continue Reading Counterpunch: China Adopts Landmark Anti-Sanctions Statute to Stop U.S. Sanctions Effects Overseas

Last week, on June 3, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order (“E.O.”) prohibiting U.S. investments in designated Chinese companies deemed to undermine “the security or democratic values of the United States and [its] allies” (see here). The E.O. is the most recent in a long list of foreign policy actions seeking to put pressure on China using economic tools to curtail China’s surveillance and intelligence activities against the United States. The E.O. amends and supersedes Trump’s Executive Order 13959 (“E.O. 13959”), as amended by Executive Order 13974 (“E.O. 13974”), which similarly prohibited U.S. persons from engaging in certain transactions with companies placed on the Defense Department’s Chinese Communist Military Companies (“CCMC”) list. The E.O. contains a new list, the “Chinese-Military Industrial Companies” (“CMIC”), that replaces the CCMC for purposes of prohibiting certain transactions by U.S. persons. The new CMIC list includes many of the previously-designated companies on the CCMC list, including, for example, Huawei and Hikvision. While previous prohibitions on these companies focused on export restrictions, the U.S. government is tightening the avenues for U.S. companies to safely conduct business with many Chinese behemoths. For U.S. companies that deal regularly with China, it would make sense to think more broadly about those business relationships as companies develop their strategic plans.
Continue Reading President Biden Issues a New…ish Ban on Certain Chinese Investments

A new framework for foreign direct investments in the United Kingdom

Takeaways

  • The United Kingdom Government has adopted a CFIUS-style National Security and Investment Act (“the Act”).
  • The new law takes effect in later in 2021, but UK Government may look back at deals from November 2020 onward.
  • The Act is considered one of the most far-reaching systems in the world, carrying civil and criminal penalties for a failure to notify.
  • A notifiable acquisition completed without the approval of the Secretary of State is void (of no legal effect).
  • The UK Government has stated that it will work closely with investors to help ease the market into the new framework of investment rules.


Continue Reading CFIUK Comes to Life: The National Security and Investment Act 2021

Key Takeaways:

  • Threatened 25% tariffs on French luxury goods are suspended.
  • USTR is still looking at tariffs in retaliation for taxes on U.S. global tech companies.
  • Biden’s new USTR will face immense pressure to negotiate the digital taxation issue in the first few weeks of her tenure.

In the last few weeks of former President Trump’s term in office, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) suspended its previous plans to impose tariffs on certain French luxury goods, as we discussed here and here.
Continue Reading USTR Suspends Tariffs on Certain French Luxury Goods: A Potential Shift in Trade Talks

Key takeaways

The new National Security and Investment Bill expands the UK government’s powers to intercede in acquisitions of UK companies where it determines there is a potential national security threat.

The Bill creates a new government agency, the Investment Security Unit (ISU) to oversee foreign direct investment review, removing the power from the competition/antitrust regulator, the CMA.

Regulators will be able to “call in” transactions that were not notified but that the Secretary of State determines may pose a national security risk.

A mandatory notification will be introduced for certain sectors, including penalties for failure to notify, but the details of those requirements have not been completed.
Continue Reading CFIUK: The United Kingdom Introduces a New Mechanism for Foreign Direct Investment Screening