On Tuesday, May 23, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative issued a Federal Register notice asking for public comments on what the negotiating objectives should be for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation. Written comments are due by Monday, June 12, and there will be a public hearing on Tuesday, June 27. This is an important opportunity for companies to weigh in not only on their priorities in NAFTA, but also on their trade priorities, generally, as the Trump administration has indicated the renegotiated NAFTA will serve as a template for its trade policy objectives going forward. If you need any assistance on commenting, please let us know.
Yesterday morning, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) formally notified Congress that the administration intends to initiate renegotiations with Mexico and Canada on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The administration is required to submit the notice to ensure that any legislation required to implement an updated agreement can receive fast-track protection under the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA). Under the TPA, the USTR may not enter into formal negotiations until 90 days after this notice is provided to Congress. Thus, NAFTA renegotiations can start on August 16, 2017.
Invoking statutory authority not used in almost two decades, President Trump on April 20, 2017, directed the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) to conduct an investigation into the effects of steel imports on U.S. national security. Citing the more than 150 antidumping and countervailing orders currently in place on steel products imported from various countries, the Presidential Memorandum announcing the investigation claims that U.S. steel producers continue to be harmed by continued unfair trade practices, such as subsidies provided by foreign governments and excess production capacity in producing countries. These systemic trade abuses, according to the Presidential Memorandum, jeopardize long-term investment in the U.S. industry and weaken the pool of qualified workers for this strategic industry.
President Trump signed two EOs addressing trade on Friday, March 31: one addressing trade and customs enforcement, including the collection of antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD), and a second requesting an omnibus report on significant trade deficits. While the EOs represent another of the administration’s major forays into trade, they set the table for increased enforcement of U.S. trade laws and scrutiny of U.S. trading partners.
British American Business’s NETWORK has published the article “Akin Gump: A Time for Negotiation & Implications of A New Administration,” written by Akin Gump international trade partners Davina Garrod and Hal Shapiro. The article presents a look-ahead to pertinent trade issues in the United Kingdom and United States following Brexit and the U.S. election.
On February 2, 2017, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued Cyber-related General License (GL) 1, a general license that authorizes certain transactions with Russia’s Federal Security Service (Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti or FSB). GL 1 authorizes U.S. persons (i.e., individuals and companies) to request, receive, use, pay for or deal in licenses, permits, certifications, or notifications issued or registered by the FSB for information technology (IT) products in Russia, provided that (i) the relevant IT goods or technology are subject to the U.S. Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and are licensed or otherwise authorized by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS); and (ii) payment of fees to the FSB for such licenses and other authorization or notification does not exceed $5,000 in any calendar year. GL 1 also authorizes transactions or activities that are necessary and ordinary incident to complying with law enforcement or administrative actions or investigations involving the FSB or rules and regulations administered by the FSB.
On January 31, 2017, Acting Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Michael S. Piwowar, issued two statements calling for comments on the SEC’s enforcement of the conflict minerals reporting requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act. Congress implemented the conflict minerals reporting requirements in an effort to reduce funding to armed groups that commit human rights abuses and contribute to conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
On January 27, 2017, President Trump announced restrictions on entry to the United States by several categories of non-citizens. The EO titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” cites authority vested in the President under the U.S. Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and the national security objective “to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.” The EO contains 11 sections. This analysis focuses on two of those sections: Section 3, which addresses the suspension of visas and other immigration benefits for countries of particular concern, and Section 5, which addresses the suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).