Treasury Imposes Further Sanctions on Iran

Background on Iran Sanctions 

The United States has imposed restrictions on activities with Iran under various legal authorities since 1979, following the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran following the Iranian Revolution. In October 2015, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia, as well as Germany (known collectively as the P5 +1) met with Iran and successfully negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”). Pursuant to the JCPOA, Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some sanctions. According to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, the JCPOA would result in “the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program, including steps on access in areas of trade, technology, finance, and energy.” The few years of decreased economic sanctions towards Iran came to an end in May 2018 when the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA. The return of increased U.S. sanctions towards Iran came into effect in November 2018.

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USTR Announces Special 301 Review – Comments Due January 28

Special 301 Report

The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) conducts an annual evaluation known as the Special 301 review. In the review, USTR identifies countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property (“IP”) rights or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on IP protection. As a result of this review, trading partners that present the most significant concerns regarding IP rights are placed in one of three categories: 1) the Watch List, 2) the Priority Watch List, and 3) Priority Foreign Countries.

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New Developments in U.S. Aluminum & Steel – Import Monitoring

Background on Section 232 Investigations

There is significant discussion among the trade community about the future of the Section 232 aluminum and steel tariffs. Section 232 investigations, administered by the U.S. Commerce Department, are conducted to determine the imports of certain goods on national security. Historically, Section 232 investigations have been conducted regarding U.S. imports of crude oil and petroleum products and uranium, among other critical imports. Under the Trump administration, the Commerce Department initiated investigations of U.S. imports of aluminum and steel on April 27, 2017. The investigation resulted in an affirmative determination that such imports harm U.S. national security. The Commerce Department’s investigation reports found that:

  • The United States is the world’s largest importer of steel – with imports four times exports.
  • World steelmaking capacity is 2.4 billion metric tons, up 127% from 2000, while steel demand grew at a slower rate.
  • The recent global excess capacity is 700 million tons, almost 7 times the annual total of U.S. steel consumption. China is by far the largest producer and exporter of steel, and the largest source of excess steel capacity. Their excess capacity alone exceeds the total U.S. steel-making capacity.
  • Aluminum imports have risen to 90% of total demand for primary aluminum

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USTR Announces China 301 Tariff Exclusion Extensions for COVID-Related Products

On December 29, 2020, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) announced long-awaited extensions to a limited set of previously granted exclusions (for COVID-related products), that were set to expire on December 31, 2020. Meanwhile, importers across non-COVID industries are continuing to await guidance on their tariff exclusion extensions that are set to expire on December 31, 2020.

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New National Space Policy Drives American Leadership in Space Commerce

National Space Policy Unveiled

On December 9, 2020, the White House released the National Space Policy of the United States of America. Among other objectives, the policy seeks to drive U.S. leadership in space commerce by encouraging the cultivation of U.S. industrial capacity in space innovation.

 

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A Year in Review!

2020 has been a difficult year filled with immense challenge and change (to say the least). From all of us at Diaz Trade Law, we are incredibly thankful and grateful for your support. Despite a pandemic, Diaz Trade Law still managed to save our clients MILLIONS of dollars in 2020. It is with great joy that we finish off 2020 filled with numerous achievements and accomplishments. We look forward to assisting you in what we envision will be a better and brighter 2021!

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Catch Up on Diaz Trade Law’s Top Blogs From 2020!

We want to make sure you stay up to date with the hottest trade blogs from 2020. Below is a summary of what you missed by category. Enjoy!

 

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Goldman Sachs Pays $2.9 Billion in FCPA Settlement

Largest FCPA Settlement to Date

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced in October that Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (“Goldman Sachs”) agreed to pay $2.9 billion as part of a settlement agreement. The settlement was a result of the agencies’ enforcement action after they learned that Goldman Sachs had allegedly paid $1.6 billion in bribes to officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) to secure its position as the underwriter of $6.5 billion in three bond deals with 1Malaysia Development Berhad. The settlement constitutes the largest Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) settlement ever recorded.

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USMCA Comment Opportunity – Due Dec. 31

USMCA Background

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”) is a free trade agreement that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) and entered into force on July 1, 2020. The USMCA enjoyed significant bipartisan support and was widely considered a successful effort at “modernizing” NAFTA.

From a labor perspective, the USMCA contains much stronger provisions than its predecessor. Rather than comprising enforceable labor provisions, NAFTA was accompanied by a labor side agreement which only listed guiding principles pertaining to workers’ rights. On the other hand, the USMCA comprises an enforceable chapter dedicated to labor containing strong provisions in favor of workers rights.

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Continuing Education for Licensed Customs Brokers – Comments Due December 28, 2020

Background

Section 641 of the Tariff Act of 1930 provides that individuals and business entities must hold a valid customs broker’s license and permit to transact customs business on behalf of others. The statute also sets forth standards for the issuance of broker licenses and permits; provides for disciplinary action against brokers in the form of suspension or revocation of such licenses and permits; and provides for the assessment of monetary penalties against other persons for conducting customs business without the required broker’s license. Section 641 also authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe rules and regulations relating to the customs business of brokers as may be necessary to protect importers and the revenue of the United States.

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