Latest updates

What could happen to imports if government shuts down: 2018 version
Arent Fox LLP
  • USA
  • January 12 2018

Based on recent activity in Congress, the possibility of a shutdown of US federal government activities for at least a brief period is looming larger. Although it is unknown what the US Customs and Border Protection and other government agencies involved in import operations would likely do in the event of a shutdown, the 2013 federal government shutdown can be useful as a planning tool for importers.

Evolution of export law: what to do if a special agent comes knocking
  • USA
  • December 08 2017

The Department of Commerce, the State Department and Treasury each approach manufacturers, exporters and shippers as a way to gather information, understand a company or an industry and verify that the target understands the applicable export regulations. While these visits are often innocuous and as advertised, they may have an underlying purpose. How companies respond to these visits must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

New customs regulations target evasion of duties
  • USA
  • September 16 2016

US Customs and Border Protection recently published interim regulations to implement the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, setting out the procedural framework and interested parties' rights and obligations in the process. The interim rules have already taken effect, but a 60-day public comment period is now open and could result in revisions when the rules are finalised.

Cuba sanctions eased further: more opportunities for US businesses?
  • USA
  • March 25 2016

The Obama administration recently announced the easing of yet another set of sanctions on Cuba. The changes to the existing sanctions policy became effective through regulatory amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and the Export Administration Regulations. This marks the fourth set of amendments to the regulations since President Obama began efforts to normalise relations with Cuba in 2014.

Congress enacts first major customs bill in over 20 years
  • USA
  • March 04 2016

President Obama recently signed the bipartisan Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act. This is the first major customs legislation enacted since the Customs Modernisation Act of 1993. The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act focuses on facilitating legitimate trade and enforcing existing trade laws, such as those relating to intellectual property and trade remedies.

OFAC issues cyber-related sanctions regulations
  • USA
  • January 22 2016

In the aftermath of the cyber-attack on the Office of Personnel Management and significant losses of corporate intellectual property, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) recently issued new cyber-related sanctions regulations. Once parties are blocked for cyber-related sanctions purposes, their names will be added to the OFAC Specially Designated Nationals List.

Ban on export of crude oil repealed
  • USA
  • January 15 2016

For the first time in 40 years, US companies ‎may now export US crude oil to most locations without an export licence from the Department of Commerce. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, a massive spending bill that was passed by bipartisan majorities in Congress and signed by President Obama in 2015, has eliminated the export licence requirement.

Technology company penalised for US export control and sanctions violations
  • USA
  • January 08 2016

The US government recently fined California-based technology company Barracuda Networks Inc and its wholly owned UK-based subsidiary Barracuda Networks Ltd more than $1.5 million for transactions relating to sales and servicing of equipment and software to Iran, Syria and Sudan. The products at issue (web filters, link balances, firewall products and server backup software) can be used to block or censor internet activity.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement faces long road to approval
  • USA
  • November 06 2015

The recent announcement of the successful conclusion of the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a major accomplishment, but it may take time for each nation to obtain approval of the deal. This update reviews the approval process that will apply in the United States and the challenges that some prior US free trade agreements experienced when they came up for consideration during election campaign periods.

Revised US-Cuba sanctions regulations another (small) step for Obama administration
  • USA
  • October 23 2015

The US Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control and the US Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security have amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and the Export Administration Regulations, respectively. The changes further align the regulations with President Obama's policy shift towards engaging and empowering the Cuban people.

Insurer settles alleged sanctions violations with OFAC
  • USA
  • August 28 2015

The US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has announced a $271,815 settlement with a US-based company for 48 alleged violations of various OFAC sanctions programmes. This enforcement action highlights the need for insurers and reinsurers to integrate economic sanctions into their compliance procedures.

Lapsed duty-free programme renewed; guidance on refund processes issued
  • USA
  • August 21 2015

The new Trade Preferences Extension Act reauthorises the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), effective from July 29 2015 to December 31 2017. The reauthorisation applies to otherwise eligible articles that were imported or withdrawn from a warehouse since the GSP lapsed on August 1 2013. Excluded, however, are goods that entered from Russia and Bangladesh, neither of which is currently eligible for GSP benefits.

Amendments give agencies new directions and discretion
  • USA
  • July 31 2015

Recent amendments give new directions and discretion to the two agencies responsible for administering US anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws. They aim to increase the likelihood of affirmative injury determinations by the International Trade Commission and to grant the Department of Commerce greater discretion to augment the dumping margins and subsidy rates applied to foreign manufacturers and their US importers.

WTO decision raises new questions for trade remedy respondents
  • USA
  • May 15 2015

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Appellate Body recently upheld the underlying WTO panel report in an appeal by Vietnam in a dispute concerning Section 129(c)(1) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act. The decision suggests that alternative mechanisms are available for respondents seeking US implementation of WTO determinations arising from trade remedy proceedings with respect to certain prior unliquidated entries of subject merchandise.

Commerce and Treasury implement Cuba-related changes
  • USA
  • February 13 2015

In order to ease US sanctions against Cuba intended to further engage and empower the Cuban people, the US Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control and the US Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security have amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and the Export Administration Regulations. The amendments have authorised a number of previously prohibited activities.

Relations with Cuba take new direction
  • USA
  • January 23 2015

President Obama recently announced that the United States and Cuba would renew diplomatic relations. As part of this deal, certain US sanctions against Cuba and Cuban nationals will be lifted or eased. In the coming weeks, the Treasury and Commerce Departments will amend their regulations to implement the president's announcement.

Sanctions against Russia increase
  • USA
  • January 16 2015

President Obama has signed into law the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, which authorises further sanctions against parties in Russia, as well as military assistance for Ukraine. The act requires the imposition of sanctions with respect to certain Russian weapons exporters and authorises – but does not require – the imposition of sanctions and export controls against Russia's energy sector.

Sanctions and export controls against Russia expanded
  • USA
  • October 24 2014

The government has expanded sanctions and export controls against Russia's energy, defence and financial services sectors. The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has broadened sectoral sanctions targeting Russia's defence sector and additional entities and activities in the energy sector. New restrictions on exports to Russia destined to military end uses or end users have also been announced.

OFAC changes '50% rule' relating to entities owned by blocked persons
  • USA
  • September 19 2014

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has revised its guidance on entities owned by blocked persons. The revised guidance makes clear that an entity is blocked if one or more blocked persons directly or indirectly owns a 50% or greater interest in the entity, whether individually or in aggregate.

OFAC changes 50% rule relating to entities owned by blocked persons
  • USA
  • September 05 2014

The Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control has revised its guidance on entities owned by blocked persons. The revised guidance makes clear that an entity is blocked if one or more blocked persons directly or indirectly owns a 50% or greater interest in the entity, whether individually or in the aggregate.