The US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has proposed a new Export Control Classification Number to control software that is capable of being used to operate nucleic acid assemblers and synthesisers due to concerns that such software could be used to create pathogens and toxins as biological weapons. If adopted, this will be the fifth set of emerging technology controls that BIS has published and the second set of unilateral emerging technology controls.
The government has recently stepped up its enforcement against forced labour. As particular regions come under increased media scrutiny, this issue has seen renewed interest in Congress, which is considering several bills to enhance forced labour enforcement. Moreover, with the United States taking a whole-of-government approach against goods made from forced labour, companies must act now to mitigate risk in their supply chains. This article discusses these actions in further detail.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is now following new rules on mandatory filings for certain foreign investments in critical technology companies. On behalf of CFIUS, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Investment Security initially issued proposed regulations in May 2020. After considering public comments, the treasury made minor revisions to the proposed regulations and published a final rule in September 2020, which took effect on 15 October 2020.
The US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) recently released a final rule revising its licensing policy for crime control and detection (CC) items, which is designed to promote respect for human rights throughout the world. On the same day, BIS made another CC-related move, issuing a final rule regarding new controls on water cannon systems and related parts and components, with the preamble specifically describing riot and crowd control in Hong Kong.
The Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) recently issued a final rule adding additional Huawei non-US affiliates to the Entity List, confirming the expiration of the temporary general licence and amending the so-called 'Foreign Direct Product Rule'. BIS also issued another final rule clarifying that prohibitions on Entity List entities apply regardless of the role that the entities play in a transaction.
The Federal Acquisition Regulation Council recently published a long-awaited interim rule implementing Section 889(a)(1)(B) of the National Defence Authorisation Act 2019. Essentially, the new rule prohibits government agencies from entering into, extending or renewing a contract with contractors if they use any equipment, system or service that uses certain Chinese telecoms equipment or services as a substantial or essential component of any system or as critical technology as part of any system.
President Trump recently signed an executive order (EO) banning 'transactions' – which have yet to be identified by the US Department of Commerce – relating to TikTok and its parent, ByteDance Ltd. The EO states that the spread of the Chinese mobile app continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States. In addition to concerns relating to sensitive personal data, the EO points to concerns pertaining to influence operations.
The US Department of Defence recently published a list of 20 Chinese companies that have been identified as 'Communist Chinese military companies', complying with a two-decade-old mandate that Congress issued during the Clinton administration. The takeaway for companies, universities and individuals is that they should proceed with caution and carefully conduct due diligence when dealing with China.
The Department of Commerce and the Department of State recently announced that they were following through with changes to treat Hong Kong like China for exports of military and dual-use goods. The impetus for these measures was China's proposal to pass a controversial national security law affecting Hong Kong, which Beijing's top legislative body finally passed on 30 June 2020.
The Department of Commerce and the Bureau of Industry and Security recently revised an arcane export control rule that imposes US export controls on foreign-origin products that are a direct product of certain US technologies. Although the two new categories of foreign direct product are far broader than the old one, new foreign direct products require a licence only when they are exported or re-exported to entities on a new special subset of the Entity List, which includes Huawei, HiSilicon and other Huawei affiliates.
Through an array of legislative and administrative measures, the government has made significant strides in recent years to limit, and perhaps end altogether, the proliferation of Chinese-origin telecoms technology in US infrastructure. While some of the legislation is company agnostic, Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, which remains on the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security's Entity List, is a primary target.
Like many other US government agencies, the State Department, Directorate of Defence Trade Controls (DDTC) has announced certain measures, effective immediately, to alleviate burdens caused by COVID-19 in relation to compliance with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. The changes affect registration, compliance, licensing and outreach to the DDTC.
In a notification of exemptions action recently published for public inspection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) set out a list of exemptions to its requirement for prior approval to export previously identified scarce medical personal protective equipment. However, despite its attempt to clarify previous rules and guidance, FEMA's notice has raised nearly as many questions as it answers.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has exercised its delegated authority under the Defence Production Act to issue a temporary final rule (Prioritisation and Allocation of Certain Scarce or Threatened Health and Medical Resources for Domestic Use) to prohibit the export of five types of medical personal protective equipment that the government previously identified as scarce and threatened materials during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The State Department has finally brought the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) into the 21st century by releasing an interim final rule adopting the cloud computing encryption standards that the Commerce Department adopted in 2015. The good news is that, for the most part, the State Department resisted the temptation to do something different in the ITAR, so the joint Commerce-State solution works.
In the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernisation Act and the Export Control Reform Act, Congress essentially gave the Department of Commerce the authority to decide how narrowly or widely to set the jurisdiction for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States over non-passive minority investments involving emerging and foundational technologies. Yet, at times, the department has seemed almost paralysed by this question.
The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced another major policy change towards Cuba by further restricting the Cuban government's access to items subject to BIS's Export Administration Regulations. This new rule will have a significant impact on exporters and re-exporters currently using certain licence exceptions to export to Cuba that export non-US origin products with US-origin content to Cuba and lease commercial aircraft to Cuban state-owned airlines.
Among other recent blows to Huawei, the Department of Defence, the General Services Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have issued an interim rule amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation to implement a key provision of the John S McCain National Defence Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2019. In light of this, US companies should carefully review their transactions with Chinese tech companies to ensure that they do not fall foul of any prohibitions.
President Trump recently signed an executive order, freezing all assets in which the Venezuelan government has an interest that are in US hands and prohibiting US persons from conducting transactions with the Venezuelan government, unless specifically exempted or authorised. Although this is not an embargo on all trade with Venezuela, the executive order goes substantially further than the previous sanctions.
President Donald Trump recently issued an executive order authorising broad new sanctions with respect to the steel, aluminium, iron and copper sectors of Iran. The announcement came hours after Iran announced that it would no longer fully comply with elements of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The executive order is a major expansion of existing statutory secondary sanctions which relate to steel and aluminium and also addresses two new sectors – copper and iron.
Before former President Obama left office in late 2016, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published a list of FAQs to address the possibility of revoking the relaxed sanctions on Iran. Following President Trump's recent announcement that the United States is withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, OFAC has published new FAQs explaining how the re-imposition of sanctions will go into effect.