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.
As a result of the growing tensions between the United States and China, President Trump recently issued an executive order concerning certain import and export trade requirements between the two countries. Among these changes, it was mandated that goods produced in Hong Kong be marked with China as their country of origin. Because of the time needed to mark, pack and ship goods from Hong Kong to the United States, importers must act quickly to ensure compliance with this new requirement.
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.
In view of the recent action taken by President Trump in an executive order regarding Hong Kong's status, US importers should prepare for increased risk exposure in US-Hong Kong trade. Although Hong Kong technically continues to be treated as its own separate customs territory by multilateral agreements, the commitments undertaken by the United States with regard to the original 2047 timeline for Hong Kong's full reintegration into China are being rapidly accelerated.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published a proposed rule for Made in the USA (MUSA) claims which would codify its current standard that unqualified MUSA claims for a product should have a reasonable basis for asserting that all or virtually all of the product is made in the United States and authorise it to assess monetary penalties on unsubstantiated claims. Controversially, the proposed rule would also extend the FTC's enforcement authority to labels, mail-order catalogues and online advertising.
The US Court of International Trade recently granted judgment in favour of an importer of steel from Turkey, ruling that there are limits on the president's power to impose tariffs for national security purposes. The importer had argued that the president's proclamation of a 50% tariff on Turkish steel failed to follow the procedures required by the animating statute and violated the importer's constitutional rights.
Certain products from France, including leather handbags and certain beauty preparations and soaps, will soon become pricier. Following a disagreement over how to tax US tech companies in France, the US Trade Representative has imposed additional duties of 25% on French goods, effective 6 January 2021 – a cost that importers and retailers will have to absorb or pass on to their customers.
On 1 July 2020 the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) entered into force. These are still early days and much remains to be clarified by pending rulemaking. To help reduce the risk of making costly mistakes, this article provides a checklist of recommendations to guide readers through these first weeks and months of the USMCA.
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 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's Inclusive Framework aims to reach an agreement on a multilateral taxation framework for the digitised economy by the end of 2020. However, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recently confirmed that the United States has withdrawn its participation from the digital tax talks. The United States' withdrawal is a step towards new tariffs on imports from countries that apply their own digital services tax.
In four new FAQs, the Office of Foreign Assets Control has provided a few surprises in its clarifications of the sector-based sanctions contained in Iran-Related Executive Order (EO) 13902. The new FAQs confirm earlier guidance and provide detailed but mostly unremarkable definitions of the four sectors of the Iranian economy, as well as the goods and services used in connection with those sectors, that are targeted by EO 13902 and the meanings of the terms 'knowingly' and 'significant'.
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.
A new executive order has formalised Team Telecom, a previously ad hoc committee which for many years has reviewed applications for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorisations involving non-US parties, typically for US-international telecoms service or submarine cable landings. The committee has the primary responsibility of reviewing applications for FCC authorisations which involve foreign ownership to identify national security or law enforcement risks.
Recognising that COVID-19 is further straining humanitarian needs in sanctioned countries and complicating compliance with economic sanctions, the Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control recently issued web-based guidance to remind the public of the many ways in which medical exports and other humanitarian services, supplies and donations can legally flow to sanctioned countries, offer reporting and compliance flexibility and provide some Iran secondary sanctions relief.
The Commerce Department recently took significant steps to revise the Export Administration Regulations to address military-civil fusion. Specifically, the Bureau of Industry and Security issued two final rules regarding licence exception civil end users and military end-use and end-user controls, as well as a proposed rule which would eliminate a provision of the licence exception additional permissive re-exports that currently authorises certain re-exports to China and other countries.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently released the long-awaited United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Interim Implementing Instructions, which signal the transition from the North American Free Trade Agreement to the USMCA. For companies operating in the United States, selling into the United States or buying from the US marketplace, these instructions should be viewed as an indication that the USMCA is on track for a possible Summer 2020 entry into force.
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.