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
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
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
This week, there were reports that the Trump Administration would use emergency powers to restrict Chinese investment in the United States. On Wednesday, the White House backed away from that position after the House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday expanding and increasing the powers of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The bill is called the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA). Continue Reading
In what has become his trademark Trumpian manner, the President announced last Friday that new tariffs and trade restrictions against China are on again, at the same moment that his senior Commerce and Treasury Department negotiators were trying to work out a deal in Beijing. This came just a handful of days after Department of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the trade war with China was “on hold.” The President has declared again in a tweet Saturday that America “can’t lose” a trade war with China. We’ve debunked that fallacy here. But even if one accepts the premise that we should prosecute a trade war, it’s well established that a micromanaging general quickly loses the confidence of his ground troops. Wars have been lost for less. On trade, the President’s conflicting directives have everyone a little confused. Here are the highlights for the time being: Continue Reading
I spent last week in Seoul talking to clients about the latest changes to U.S. trade and sanctions policy (as South Korea is one of Iran’s largest trading partners, it is understandable that some concerns have arisen there in May). Interestingly, a topic that came up often was how to reenter the North Korean market. The people with whom I spoke, in industries ranging from financial, to manufacturing, to technology, to legal, were sanguine on the possibility of a détente and the resulting opportunities for investment, growth, and profit in a reopened North Korea. Continue Reading
1. All sanctions on Iran that were in place before January 2016 will be re-imposed no later than November, 4 2018.
2. Secondary sanctions that penalize non-U.S. persons doing business with Iran will be reinstated.
3. General License H, allowing non-U.S. subsidiaries of U.S. companies to do business in Iran, will be revoked.
4. In some cases, companies may take payments or repayments for sales, loans, or credits to Iran after November 4, 2018 Continue Reading
On April 3, 2018, President Trump’s U.S. Trade Representative released a list of 1300 categories of Chinese goods that will be subject to 25% tariffs. That followed a tit-for-tat exchange in which President Trump announced a round of steel and aluminum tariffs on March 8, and China announced tariffs on U.S. imports worth around $3 billion on April 2 (including American pork, fruit, wine and steel pipes). On April 5, China responded with a list of $50 billion of U.S. goods that will be subject to increased tariffs (including aircraft, automobiles, and soybeans). That same day, Mr. Trump announced that he is looking for $100 billion additional Chinese goods to tax. Continue Reading
Chinese investment in the United States plummeted in 2017 and is likely to continue to fall. According to the Wall Street Journal, Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States declined 36% last year, from $46.2 billion in 2016 to $29.4 billion in 2017. We expect the 2018 figures to be even lower. What could explain the precipitous decline?
Well, haven’t you heard? We’re building a wall.
The United States Government is frantically throwing up barriers to foreign investment, particularly from China. The result of that effort is clear in the swooning Chinese investment numbers. It appears that trend of tightening our defenses will only continue through 2018 and beyond. Continue Reading
A lot of us in the sanctions compliance world were wondering whether and when OFAC would issue official guidance on its application of sanctions in the digital currency world. On March 18, OFAC issued five FAQs related to virtual currency. Those FAQs convey two important messages:
(1) OFAC sanctions regulations apply to virtual currency transactions just as they apply to “fiat” currency (here’s looking at you dark web crypto-user); and
(2) OFAC will use its existing authority to respond to the growing threat posed by the use of emerging payment systems by malicious actors, including adding digital currency addresses that are associated with blocked persons to the SDN List.
While the first point – that OFAC compliance obligations apply to virtual currency transactions – is not groundbreaking news, the second point is more interesting. Our key takeaway from the FAQs is: OFAC is clearly thinking about how it will enforce its regulations on virtual currency transactions and digital currency operators, so you should too. Continue Reading