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Scott Maberry is an International Trade partner in the Government Contracts, Investigations & International Trade Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. Scott is a founding member of the Sheppard Mullin Organizational Integrity Group.

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?

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

  • 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

On January 19, 2021, the U.S. Department of Commerce (“DOC”) issued an interim final rule governing transactions in Information and Communication Technology or Services (“ICTS”) involving “foreign adversaries.” Although the rule takes effect on March 22, 2021, it allows DOC to review covered transactions initiated, pending, or completed on or after January 19, 2021.
Continue Reading Friend or Foe? The DOC Issues New Interim Rule on Transactions Involving Information and Communication Technology or Services (“ICTS”) and Foreign Adversaries

On January 13, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) on cotton and tomato products produced by entities operating in Xinjiang, China. The order is based on information that indicates the use of forced labor in the production of the goods. If you are sourcing these products from the Xinjiang region, you may want to consider proactive compliance steps to mitigate your risk and prevent disruption in your supply chain.  
Continue Reading CBP Stops More Imports Under Forced Labor Rules (Cotton a Jam, Part II)

Most of you already know Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 because of the Trump Administration’s massive China tariffs under Section 301.[1] Now it’s time to get acquainted with a separate process that may result in tariffs on Vietnamese products too. Section 301 authorizes the Office of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) to investigate certain foreign trade practices.[2] USTR has initiated a probe into Vietnam’s currency practices, which could lead to tariffs on Vietnamese products, similar to the China tariffs. The Biden transition team has not indicated whether it will follow through with the investigation.
Continue Reading Knock knock: Section 301 Tariffs on Vietnamese Products Could Soon be at Your Front Door

While many of us anxiously await putting 2020 behind us, the start of the new year may have significant import duty implications for many U.S. companies.

On December 31, two significant U.S. import duty relief programs are set to expire: the Section 301 exclusions and the Generalized Systems of Preference (“GSP”). That will cause U.S. customs duties to rise on certain products. Importers should be prepared for these changes.
Continue Reading Don’t Pop the Bubbly Just Yet: Potential Duty Increases for Importers Starting January 1