On March 7, we learned that Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation (ZTE) concluded 3 settlement agreements that could result in penalties as high as $1.2 billion for its violations of U.S. sanctions and export controls laws. Although the amount of the fines results from particularly egregious conduct on the part of ZTE to conceal its violations even during the period of investigation,  the case highlights three valuable lessons for all exporters. This is especially true given Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’s pronouncement that the case signals the new Administration will be “aggressively enforcing strong trade policies with the dual purpose of protecting American national security and protecting American workers.” (more…)

I was fortunate enough to be on a panel last week with four foreign government representatives to discuss trade. The meeting was informative and I thought I would share my take-aways. My conclusion is that Trump’s trade policy is headed towards a more balanced trade agenda. Although there are some anti-free traders in the inner circle, there are also proven free traders who are simply looking to make trade more fair. (more…)

If you are a foreign company that wants access to the U.S. financial markets, make sure you  understand the U.S. Iran Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR). Administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the ITSR, unlike other sanctions programs, contain secondary sanctions that apply to non-U.S. persons for wholly non-U.S. conduct that may occur entirely outside U.S. jurisdiction. Even if you are not doing business with Iran, several companies and individuals, many of whom are not Iranian, have been listed under the sanctions program, including 25 more added earlier this month. (more…)

The Commerce Department’s Bureau for Industry and Security (BIS) has issued a new rule that requires exporters to Hong Kong of items subject to certain controls under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to obtain either an import license or a written statement from the Hong Kong government as to why an import license is not required. The rule will be effective on April 19, 2017. (more…)

In the final weeks of December, President Obama amended sanctions to both the Iran and Russia programs. These changes further relaxed sanctions on Iran while they tightened sanctions on Russia (see our client advisory). Yet, just three days from the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, exporters are no doubt wondering what the new president will do with regard to these changes and other sanctions relief that has come to pass under the Obama administration. (more…)

The U.S. government, and we mean the pre-Trump administration at that, has blocked an acquisition of a foreign company by another foreign company. The concern is that the target company has a U.S. presence and has access to high-end technology that is controlled by the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR). If you are not aware of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) now is a good time to ensure you at least know when to look it up. (more…)

As the export agencies still strive to implement one system for export licensing and compliance, DDTC has come one step closer by creating a new on-line process for filing CJ requests.  As of November 16 at 5 pm, DDTC will no longer accept paper filings for CJ requests.  This morning, November 21,  DDTC started accepting electronic filings through the new Defense Export Control and Compliance System (DECCS). This new system will replace DTRADE and EFS and will allow the user to save drafts and copy previously inputted data.  Yay. Progress is made one small step at a time. (more…)

If you are importing a large volume of products from abroad and are not aware of the C-TPAT program administered by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), then you may want to consider the benefits of the program. C-TPAT is short for the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, and participants in the program are six times less likely to undergo a security related cargo examination. Additionally, C-TPAT participants are four times less likely to be subject to a trade related examination than non-C-TPAT members. These significantly fewer cargo examinations help save importers time and money. (more…)

Sanctions against Cuba continue to lift. Effective this week, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) have relaxed controls in several areas of trade and commerce with Cuba, including loosening restrictions on exporting to and importing from Cuba, carving out new allowances for U.S. persons entering into contingent contracts with Cubans, and opening new opportunities for American entrepreneurs in the civil aviation, construction, and health sectors. Among the changes is also a provision that will allow Americans to travel to Cuba to attend professional meetings and conferences related to tourism. (more…)