Global Trade Law Blog

Timely Updates and Analysis on Key International Trade Law Issues

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On November 28, 2022, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $362,158.70 settlement agreement with Payward, Inc. (Kraken), an online virtual currency exchange, in connection with 826 apparent violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations. This enforcement action highlights the OFAC compliance risks for virtual currency platforms and comes on the heels of the Bittrex settlement which we discussed here. Again, it is critical to assess your risks and take steps to make sure you’re addressing them with smart compliance and screening measures.
Continue Reading OFAC Continues Focus on Virtual Currency Industry with Announced Settlement with Payward, Inc.

On Monday, October 24, 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced charges against two alleged Chinese intelligence officers for bribing and stealing documents to obstruct the criminal investigation of, reportedly, Huawei (while the complaint does not name Huawei, it is the company according to multiple reports).
Continue Reading Bribes, Bitcoin and Obstruction: DOJ Announces Charges Against Chinese Agents for Trying to Impede Investigation of Huawei

Today, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) officially moved Myanmar onto the agency’s blacklist, where it joins Iran and North Korea, the only other two listed countries. It is likely that the United States and other countries will take the FATF designation as grounds to impose financial sanctions on the country, likely focusing on its central bank and financial institutions.
Continue Reading Myanmar Sanctions – A Last Resort Against a Non-Cooperating Country

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has announced the next steps in its review of the Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports. Today, on October 17, 2022, USTR published the official request for comments in the Federal Register. The tariffs were issued by then-President Donald J. Trump under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.
Continue Reading China Tariffs: USTR Requests Comments for Review of Section 301 Tariffs

Settlement Agreement with Bittrex, Inc.

Today, on October 11, 2022, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $24,280,829.20 settlement agreement with Bittrex, Inc., an online virtual currency exchange and hosted wallet service provider, in connection with 116,421 apparent violations of multiple sanctions programs. This enforcement action highlights the OFAC compliance risks for virtual currency platforms. So, assess your risks and take steps to make sure you’re addressing them with smart compliance and screening measures.
Continue Reading OFAC Announces Hefty Settlement with Virtual Currency Exchange / Hosted Wallet Services Provider

On September 30, 2022, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published compliance guidance for instant payment systems. The guide highlights the need for emerging payment technology companies to assess their sanctions risks and implement compliance programs that mitigate those risks. Specifically, the guidance: (i) reaffirms that financial institutions should take a risk-based approach to managing sanctions risks; (ii) highlights key factors that may be relevant in determining that risk-based approach; (iii) encourages the development and deployment of innovative sanctions compliance approaches and technologies to address identified risks; and (iv) encourages developers of instant payment systems to incorporate sanctions compliance
Continue Reading OFAC Issues Sanctions Compliance Guidance for Instant Payment Systems

The Announcement

On Friday, October 7, 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) released for public inspection (available here) one hundred forty pages of regulations (which we’ll call “the Regulation” here). Nearly all of the changes in the Regulation restrict the export of semiconductors, as well as related technology, manufacturing equipment, software, and even U.S.-person support, to China.
Continue Reading China Semiconductor Export Regulations, Episode I – Counting Your Chips Carefully

** Update: Announcement has been moved to Friday October 7, 2022 at 9:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time **

On Thursday, the Biden administration will announce new restrictions preventing China from accessing advanced U.S. semiconductor technology.
Continue Reading Further Export Controls on Semiconductor Technology for China coming this Week

After Mahsa Amini was killed in the custody of “Gasht-e-Ershad” or Iran’s Guidance Patrol, commonly referred to as Iran’s morality police, following an arrest for placement of her hijab, protests have erupted throughout Iran over women’s rights and Iran’s authoritarian regime more generally. Iran’s police and other security forces are retaliating severely against protestors. In response to these human rights abuses, on September 22, the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Iran’s morality police and senior leaders of Iran’s security organizations for the violence against protesters.
Continue Reading Technology to Iran: OFAC Lifts Certain Iran Sanctions In Response to Protests in Iran

On September 16, 2022, the U.S. Commerce Department released its final rule regarding antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) circumvention inquiries on solar cells and modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The rule implements President Biden’s June 6, 2022, Proclamation 10414, (which we discuss here) declaring an emergency with respect to the U.S. energy market, and temporarily waives the collection of AD/CVD duties for certain cells and modules subject to the AD/CVD anticircumvention inquiry initiated by Commerce in April 2022.
Continue Reading Commerce Department Adds Guardrails Against Stockpiling of Certain Solar Cells and Modules During Temporary Waiver of AD/CVD Duties

On September 16, the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) released a report on the Role of Law Enforcement in Detecting, Investigating, and Prosecuting Criminal Activity Related to Digital Assets pursuant to President Biden’s Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets (the “E.O.”). In its press release, the DOJ also announced the Criminal Division’s launch of the nationwide Digital Asset Coordinators Network (“DAC”) composed of designated federal prosecutors from U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide to act as a go-to source for legal and technical matters relating to prosecutions of crimes involving digital assets.
Continue Reading DOJ Issues Report on Efforts to Combat Digital Asset Criminal Activity and Announces Designated Prosecutors to Support

On September 15, President Biden signed the first-ever Executive Order (E.O.) on CFIUS – the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. While the E.O. does not substantively change CFIUS’s jurisdiction or the legal process, the Biden Administration provides some explicit guidance on certain national security priorities and factors for CFIUS to consider when evaluating transactions – focusing in on protecting U.S. technological advantage, supply chain resiliency, and sensitive data from U.S. adversaries. No doubt, the E.O. will impact certain cross-border transactions and investments as CFIUS develops strategies to incorporate the E.O. into practice and align national security priorities
Continue Reading First-Ever Executive Order on CFIUS Highlights Biden’s National Security Priorities

In recent weeks we saw Canada, Mexico and the United States present their respective positions and legal arguments, often in sharply worded exchanges, about how the Auto Core Parts rules of origin under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) should be interpreted. It is a high-stakes issue because assembly operations for vehicles and their “Core Parts” (engine, transmission, etc.) inevitably involve lengthy bills of materials with components from many countries, and what is being disputed is whether Core Parts once found to meet the USMCA requirements to be “originating” can then have their value counted as originating value (i.e., “rolled up”) in the
Continue Reading Does the USMCA Mean What It Says? The Disputes Panel Hearing on the Auto Core Parts Rules of Origin

On July 7, 2022, the Treasury Department laid out how it would work with its overseas counterparts and in international forums as the U.S. studies cryptocurrencies to set up a possible regulatory regime. This framework is the first executive agency response as mandated President Biden’s March executive order on crypto that we wrote about here.
Continue Reading Treasury Department Seeks to Coordinate Globally on Crypto Regulation