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Category Archives: International Trade & Investment

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BIS Lifts Licensing Requirements for Crude Oil Exports

Effective immediately, pursuant to section 101 of Division O of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, signed on December 18, 2015, a Department of Commerce license is no longer required to export crude oil. Crude oil is now classified as EAR99. Most exports of crude oil may now be made as NLR (no license required). Exporters should be aware that exports to embargoed or sanctioned countries or persons, including those listed in parts 744 and 746 of the EAR and persons subject to a denial of export privileges, continue to require authorization.

BIS will shortly be taking steps to amend the Export Administration Regulations to reflect this change. Companies holding current licenses for crude oil exports should be aware of section 750.7(i) of the EAR terminating license conditions upon the termination of the requirement for the export license.

New Requirements for Exports of Civil Nuclear Technology – Exports to China and Russia Affected Immediately

President Barack Obama recently signed legislation that imposes multiple new requirements relating to the regulation of exports of civil nuclear technology. Under the new law, the U.S. Secretary of Energy must make a number of changes to the Department of Energy’s nuclear export control regulations and approval process contained in 10 C.F.R. Part 810. The new law has had an immediate impact on the transfer of U.S. civil nuclear technology to China and Russia. Until the DOE has resolved how it will comply with these new requirements, it is unlikely the DOE will issue any specific authorizations for transfers of U.S. civil nuclear technology to China and Russia.

An Illuminating Note on Products Containing Small Amounts of Radioactive Materials

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently issued a proposed civil penalty of $28,000 to a watch seller for apparent violations of requirements related to importing and distributing watches containing radioactive material. The watches contain a small amount of tritium encapsulated in glass vials, which enables the markers on the watch face and hands to glow and be seen in low light.

G2 LNG Awards FEED Contract to KBR

G2 LNG, LLC (G2) has awarded a contract for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Front End Engineering Design (FEED) engineering and FERC report pre-filing services to KBR Inc. for G2’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal on the Calcasieu Ship Channel in Louisiana.

Sanctions Developments – Burundi and Liberia

On 23 November 2015, President Obama issued an executive order imposing targeted sanctions against certain persons or entities contributing to the insecurity and violence in Burundi.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Faces Difficult Legislative Terrain

On October 4, 2015, trade ministers from 12 Pacific Rim countries announced the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). TPP, a foreign policy legacy item for the president, represents nearly 40% of the world’s GDP. The agreement now requires congressional approval, using the “fast-track” process in the trade promotion authority bill (TPA) signed by President Obama in June.

The European Parliament Votes to Remove Investor-State Arbitration from the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Negotiations

On 8 July 2015, the European Parliament voted favorably on a non-binding resolution that approves of the negotiation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an international trade and investment agreement between the United States and the European Union. Importantly, however, the resolution also supports the removal of investor-state arbitration from the TTIP. The European Parliament

U.S. Government Steps Up Cybersecurity Efforts With New Rules for Export Controls, Economic Sanctions

With cybersecurity dominating the headlines, the U.S. government has taken several recent steps to target the national security threat posed by cybercriminals and hackers with new regulations aimed at curbing malicious actors online.

California Enforces Supply Chain Disclosure Law

The California Attorney General’s (AG) office recently issued letters to more than 1,700 companies listed as manufacturers or retailers on their California state tax returns requiring them to notify the AG’s office that they are, or are not, in compliance with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (the Act). These letters appear to be

Senate ENFORCE and House PROTECT Bills Could Subject U.S. Importers to New Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Evasion Allegations

As part of a package headlined by the Hatch-Wyden-Ryan bill to restore trade promotion authority, the Senate Finance Committee held an April 22, 2015 mark-up of an original customs and enforcement bill containing the Enforcing Orders and Reducing Customs Evasion (ENFORCE) Act. The ENFORCE Act creates procedures for a federal agency or interested party to

Mandatory Commerce Department Outbound Investment Survey Deadline Approaching

Certain U.S. companies and their foreign affiliates should be aware that responses to a mandatory Commerce Department outbound investment survey are due as soon as May 29, 2015.  The survey is the BE-10 Benchmark Survey of U.S. Direct Investment Abroad, a broad statistical survey conducted every five years by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic

New Trade Promotion Authority Bill Increases Prospects for Significant Trade Deals With the Pacific Region and Europe

After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, on April 16, 2015, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) introduced legislation, S. 995 and H.R. 1890, to restore trade promotion authority (TPA). The TPA bill provides the administration with negotiating objectives

Cuba Sanctions Update: Removal of Cuba from Terrorism List Will Result in Modest Easing of Trade Sanctions

As part of the historic shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba announced on 17 December 2014, President Obama instructed the Secretary of State to launch a review of Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism (SSOT), and to prepare a report within six months regarding Cuba’s support for international terrorism.

Executive Order Authorizes Economic Sanctions as New Tool for U.S. Cyber Defense

On 1 April 2015, President Obama signed an Executive Order authorizing the imposition of sanctions on individuals and entities determined to be responsible for or complicit in malicious cyber-enabled activities constituting a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States.

CFIUS Annual Report — Review Process Appears Increasingly Stringent

The recently published annual report to Congress by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a U.S. government interagency committee that conducts national security reviews of transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign person, suggests that the committee’s reviews are becoming increasingly stringent. Read More: CFIUS

USCIS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants

On 25 February 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published its final rule, effective 26 May 2015, extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, who meet certain conditions related to that LPR process. This is

CFIUS Annual Report – Review Process Appears Increasingly Stringent

The recently published annual report to Congress of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a U.S. Government interagency committee that conducts national security reviews of foreign acquisitions, suggests that the Committee’s reviews are becoming increasingly stringent.  Sweeping conclusions cannot be drawn from a report that covers only the Committee’s work in

Department of Energy issues Final Rule amending its nuclear export control regulations

On 23 February 2015 the Department of Energy (DOE) published a Final Rule in the Federal Register (80 Fed. Reg. 9359) (Final Rule) to amend the Part 810 Regulations (10 C.F.R. Part 810), which govern the export and re-export of unclassified nuclear technology and assistance. This Final Rule is the first comprehensive updating of the

State Department Issues New Export Policy For Military UAS

On February 17, the State Department announced a new policy toward the export of U.S.-origin military and commercial Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). This new policy will allow the more widespread export of armed drones for the first time. The announcement by the State Department makes clear the new policy governs the international sale, transfer, and subsequent