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CBP Issues WRO on Cotton, Tomato, & Downstream Products Made in Xinjiang

posted by Jennifer Diaz February 18, 2021 0 comments

The United States has been increasing its efforts to combat forced labor around the world. During the Trump Administration’s final weeks, the United States not only banned the importation of Chinese Cotton, Tomatoes, among other products, but also explicitly recognized the situation in Xinjiang as a Genocide.

Importers not adequately auditing their supply chains for use of forced labor are at risk of administrative and criminal enforcement. Imported merchandise produced with forced labor is subject to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enforcement. Such enforcement includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) right to detain, exclude, and/or seize imported goods and Homeland Security Investigation’s potential criminal investigation. China is not only the United States’ number one trading partner but also happens to be the world’s biggest forced labor violator.

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BIS Publishes First Military End User List

posted by Jennifer Diaz January 28, 2021 0 comments

In a Final Rule, published on December 23, 2020, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) amended the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) by creating a “Military End User (MEU) List”. The list includes the first tranche of 103 entities consisting of 58 military end-users in China and 45 in Russia. BIS determined that these companies are ‘military end users’ for purposes of the ‘military end user’ control in the EAR that applies to specified items for exports, reexports, or transfers (in-country) to China, Russia, and Venezuela when such items are destined for a prohibited ‘military end user.’

Prior to this final rule, exporters, reexporters, or transferors were responsible for identifying these entities as ‘military end users’ themselves, assuming they were not otherwise individually informed. The MEU List (which is now searchable on the consolidated screening list) allows the public to be informed of BIS’s determination so all potential exporters are informed simultaneously.

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FTC issues a Record Breaking $1.2 Million Penalty

posted by Jennifer Diaz January 26, 2021 0 comments

Co-Authored by Denise Calle

Chemence Inc., a glue maker, is once again in a sticky situation with The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for allegedly making deceptive claims that its products are made in the United States. In a proposed Consent Order, Chemence agreed to pay $1.2 million for its violation of the FTC Act for violating a 2016 federal court order to cease deceptive marketing tactics, as well as mandated an annual compliance report. The FTC now seeks Public Comment on the proposed consent agreement. The comment period closes on February 8, 2021. Thereafter, FTC will decide whether it should withdraw from the agreement or make it final and force Chemence to pay the $1.2 million penalty.

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Treasury Imposes Further Sanctions on Iran

posted by Jennifer Diaz January 12, 2021 0 comments

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

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

posted by Jennifer Diaz January 7, 2021 0 comments

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

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

posted by Jennifer Diaz December 31, 2020 0 comments

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

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

posted by Jennifer Diaz December 30, 2020 1 Comment

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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A Year in Review!

posted by Jennifer Diaz December 23, 2020 0 comments

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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Goldman Sachs Pays $2.9 Billion in FCPA Settlement

posted by Jennifer Diaz December 17, 2020 0 comments

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

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

posted by Jennifer Diaz December 15, 2020 0 comments

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

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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