On Tuesday, May 19, the U.S. Commerce Department published a regulation (effective May 15, 2020) that prohibits sale to Huawei of a microchip made to a Huawei specification, made outside the United States with non-U.S. materials, sent from a foreign country, by a foreign person.

To quote the philosopher, hol’ up.

How is that even possible?
Continue Reading Huawei Whack-A-Mole: The U.S. Takes Another Swing at the Chinese Semiconductor Industry

Is your company in a high-risk zone? Does it have the following risk characteristics?

Your company imports more than $10 million of goods.
You are mid-market: between $50 million and $2 billion in annual turnover.
Your company has experienced higher than average growth in revenues, personnel, or imports over the past 2 – 10 years.

If your company fits this profile, you may be at an elevated risk of customs violations. Many companies in this high-risk zone have outgrown their customs compliance function. Without knowing it, they may be creating violations and, since the statute of limitations is five years, they may not know about the violations until the government comes knocking on their door years after the fact.
Continue Reading Sick without Symptoms: How Multi-Million Dollar Customs Issues are Ailing U.S. Companies Without Warning

“A free and open economy is the foundation of global peace and prosperity.”
– Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, G20 summit, June 2019.

On July 1, 2019, only few days after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened the G20 summit with a speech endorsing an open global economy, the Japanese government announced that it will impose tighter controls on technology-related exports from Japan to South Korea for reasons of national security. The controls may have a devastating effect on trade between the two countries and will create further drag on the world economy.
Continue Reading A Chinese Export License to Get a Smart Phone? Tech-Tonic Changes in World Export Controls

Boy, does it sound convincing when Mr. Trump states he will submit notice under section 2205 of NAFTA to let Mexico and Canada know that the U.S. will withdraw from NAFTA. The problem is, while the president-to-be is capable, we presume, of writing, signing, and sending (or possibly tweeting) such a notification, that notification would not have a legal significance because withdrawing from NAFTA, ab initio, is not a power accorded the President.
Continue Reading The Undoing Project – Why NAFTA Can’t be Undone, but Can be Re-Done

Article Highlights:

  • Non-U.S. banks can do business with Iran and continue their relationships with U.S. banks.
  • Non-U.S. companies may use proceeds from Iran transactions more freely, including in the United States.
  • OFAC draws a clearer line with respect to the use of Iran-related funds.

After the Iran nuclear agreement, as non-U.S. companies entered into newly-permitted business in Iran, they faced the difficult question of where they could put the money from their Iran business. U.S. law still prohibits U.S. persons (including U.S. banks) from conducting most business with Iran. Among other rules, OFAC regulations and guidance provided that “Iran-related” funds could not transit the U.S. financial system. But the guidance did not state clearly what constituted “Iran-related” funds. For that reason, foreign financial institutions (FFIs) hesitated, even feared, to process Iran-related transactions because of the risks of sending Iran-related funds into the U.S. financial system in violation of U.S. sanctions. However, a new clarification in the OFAC guidance could change all of that (and change it in the way we proposed right here in this blog[1]).


Continue Reading Those Three Little Words: OFAC’s Subtle Language Shift Could Create Sweeping Change on Iran Investment

Last week, researchers at Citizen Lab uncovered sophisticated new spyware that allowed hackers to take complete control of anyone’s iPhone, turning the phone into a pocket-spy to intercept communications, track movements and harvest personal data. The malicious software, codenamed “Pegasus,” is believed to have been developed by the NSO Group, an Israeli company (whose majority shareholder is a San Francisco based private equity firm) that describes itself as a “leader in cyber warfare” and sells its software — with a price tag of $1 million – primarily to foreign governments. The software apparently took advantage of three previously unknown security flaws in Apple’s iOS software, and was described by experts as “the most sophisticated” ever seen on the market. Apple quickly released a patch of its software, iOS 9.3.5, and urged users to download it immediately.


Continue Reading Espionage and Export Controls: The iPhone Hack Highlights The New World of Warfare

On the morning of June 24, 2016, we woke up to a headline that had been much discussed, but still added a jolt to many people’s morning coffee: Britain to Leave the European Union.

The first response, almost inevitably, was fear and confusion. Global markets dropped precipitously (as did the Pound Sterling and the Euro) until the Bank of England spoke up to reassure investors, and even then the exchanges appeared jittery. Nevertheless, after bolting from bed in the first shocking instant, we propose a calmer moment to reflect on the new reality. Over breakfast (English breakfast tea with that, perhaps?), we may carefully examine how Brexit will impact global business.

To begin, we have taken that moment to analyze the implications of the UK’s separation from the European Union in the realm of sanctions, export controls, and foreign investment in the United States. We address those implications in the four questions below.
Continue Reading The Morning After: Waking up to Brexit and Its Impact on Your Business

After a twelve-year standoff that saw the United States and Europe ratchet up sanctions pressure on Iran, a diplomatic breakthrough has been reached. But robust trade between Iran and the West will not arise immediately, since the end of sanctions is a long way away.
Continue Reading Implementation Day: Do the Rules Let You Play in the New Ballgame for Business in Iran?

The United States has a responsibility, or so the State Department tells us, to ensure the sales and exports of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are consistent with U.S. national security interests, U.S. policy, and even U.S. values. While the government would be glad to keep the export of military drones in lock-step with our policy goals, the realities of a rapidly expanding UAS market and global competition has forced export regulators to consider how to balance the potential loss of economic opportunity against the loss of control of UAS technology.
Continue Reading Read the Directions Carefully Before Playing: State Department Releases Military Drone Export Guidance

Every time there is a new round of reforms under the President’s Export Control Reform initiative, we hear the same advice:

  1. Controls on certain items are eliminated or reduced (which creates new opportunities for manufacturers and exporters); but
  2. The new rules bring new complexities, so be careful.

Attorneys in the export control space correspondingly inundate us with articles advising, in effect, call your export control lawyer.


Continue Reading Military Electronics Export Reform: Let the Chips Fall Where They May