Sixth Round of NAFTA Negotiations Wraps Up with Some Progress and a Commitment to Future Dialogue

Posted in Foreign Trade

On Jan. 29, 2018, in Montreal, representatives from the United States, Canada, and Mexico – including U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo – wrapped up the Sixth Round of the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In this Round of negotiations, the parties were expected to discuss some of the most contentious proposals of the NAFTA renegotiations.

Some of the key issues addressed were:

  • Rules of Origin;
  • Sunset Provision;
  • Perishable and Seasonal Goods;
  • Canada’s Dairy Supply Management System;
  • Government Procurement; and
  • Dispute Resolution.

However, the Sixth Round ended with little closure on these key issues. Some of these issues continue to be sticking points in the negotiation and create uncertainty as to what a modernized NAFTA might look like. Below, we provide brief summaries of the key issues addressed during the Sixth Round.

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U.S. Implements President Trump’s Cuba Policy

Posted in Export Controls, President Trump Administration, US-Cuba relations

On Nov. 8, 2017, the U.S. Government announced new regulations in furtherance of the Trump Administration’s policy regarding Cuba.

As discussed in our prior GT Alert, in June 2017, President Trump published his National Security Presidential Memorandum “Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba” (NSPM), which announced modification of U.S. policy with respect to Cuba to target the Cuban military, intelligence, and security agencies.  In the NSPM, President Trump emphasized the need to promote the flow of economic benefits to the Cuban people, rather than to its military.  The NSPM further directed the Commerce, State, and Treasury Departments to take various actions implementing the new policy.

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*Admitted to the practice of law in Cuba and New York. Not admitted in Florida.

United States Terminates Sanctions Against Sudan

Posted in President Trump Administration, Sanctions, Sudan

The Trump Administration has announced its decision to revoke the comprehensive economic sanctions against Sudan. The termination was effective as of Oct. 12, 2017.

In January 2017, President Obama suspended the Sudan sanctions regime for a period of six months, pending a final review of U.S. policy toward Sudan. In July 2017, the Trump Administration extended the suspension for an additional three months to provide sufficient time to complete its evaluation of whether to revoke the Sudan sanctions permanently.

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U.S. Imposes Additional Sanctions on North Korea

Posted in Executive Order, Export Controls, North Korea, Sanctions

Amid escalating U.S.-North Korea tensions, over the past month, the United States imposed several new rounds of sanctions against North Korea. The new sanctions measures are designed to reduce the flow of economic resources from non-U.S. sources to North Korea.

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President Trump Blocks $1.3 billion Sale of Lattice Semiconductor to China-backed Buyer

Posted in Executive Order, Foreign Investment

Citing national security concerns, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on Sept. 13, 2017, blocking the proposed $1.3 billion acquisition of Portland, Oregon-based Lattice Semiconductor by Canyon Bridge Investments, a Chinese-owned investment fund based in California.  The move comes as foreign investment transactions, particularly those with a China nexus, are subject to increasingly intense scrutiny and criticism from U.S. government regulators overseeing the CFIUS process.

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The UK’s Position Paper on the Post-Brexit Availability of Goods – Implications for Chemicals

Posted in Brexit, UK

The UK government has recently published a series of position papers outlining its thinking on a range of potential issues resulting from the June 2016 Brexit vote. The papers cover matters such as dispute resolution, cross-border arrangements on the Irish island, the treatment of European Union citizens, and data protection.

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U.S. Imposes Additional Sanctions Against Venezuela

Posted in Executive Order, Sanctions

President Trump has signed an Executive Order limiting the Venezuelan government’s access to the U.S. financial system.  The new sanctions are the latest in a quick succession of U.S. sanctions measures issued in response to the deteriorating political situation in Venezuela.  Notably, while previous U.S. sanctions directives targeted specific Venezuelan individuals and entities only, the new sanctions, for the first time, target the Venezuelan government and the Venezuelan state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA).

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President Signs New Russia, Iran, and North Korea Sanctions Measures into Law

Posted in Iran, North Korea, Sanctions

On August 2, 2017, President Trump signed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (HR 3364) into law. The bill had received near-unanimous support in Congress. The new law combines three separate sanctions measures: the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act (CIDAA), the Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act (CRIEEA), and the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act, in an effort to broaden existing U.S. sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

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U.S. Sanctions Venezuelan President, Additional Sanctions May Follow

Posted in Executive Order, OFAC, Sanctions

On July 31, 2017, the Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced further sanctions against Venezuela, specifically targeting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Moros. The sanctions against President Maduro are the second set of sanctions that the United States has imposed against Venezuela in the past week, as 13 Venezuelan individuals, including members of the Venezuelan government, were similarly sanctioned by OFAC on July 26, 2017. As a result of the sanctions, all of President Maduro’s assets in the United States have been frozen, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in all dealings (direct and indirect) with him and any entities that are not specifically named on the List of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN), but are owned 50 percent or more in the aggregate by President Maduro.

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U.S. Sanctions Venezuelan Individuals, Including PDVSA Officials

Posted in OFAC, Sanctions

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has recently sanctioned 13 Venezuelan individuals alleged to be involved in human rights abuses and corruption. According to the Trump Administration, the new sanctions were imposed in part to pressure the Venezuelan government not to proceed with a proposed rewrite of the Venezuelan Constitution and, in part, to deter other government officials from participating in the upcoming election of a new constituent assembly to rewrite the Constitution. Importantly, the sanctions designations include one current and one former officer of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), the Venezuelan state oil company. The designation of individuals linked to PDVSA may signal the Trump Administration’s increased willingness to target the core of Venezuela’s petroleum-based economy and, depending on the upcoming events in the Venezuelan political environment, may result in further sanctions in the coming months.

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