On March 6, 2018, representatives from the United States, Canada, and Mexico wrapped up the seventh round of the ongoing renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in Mexico City. As discussed in our prior GT Alert, the negotiations have been ongoing since August 2017, but many important proposals remain largely unaddressed. As in the past six rounds, some additional progress was made during this latest round, but several key issues must still be resolved before an agreement can be reached. Negotiations during the Seventh Round were further complicated by President Trump’s announcement last week imposing tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum into the United States. Although Canada and Mexico have been excluded from the tariffs for now, the possibility of imposing these tariffs at some future time will likely play a continuing role in the NAFTA negotiations.
On March 8, 2018, President Trump signed two proclamations imposing tariff rates of 25 percent and 10 percent on imports of certain steel and aluminum products, respectively, pursuant to Section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act of 1962. These tariff rates will come into effect March 23, 2018, and will be applied in addition to any other duties, fees, and charges applicable to covered products.
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.
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.
*Admitted to the practice of law in Cuba and New York. Not admitted in Florida.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.