After much anticipation, on June 16, 2017, President Trump announced changes to U.S. policy under the existing embargo against Cuba, which reinstate some pre-Obama restrictions. The changes are relatively minor and are not expected to significantly impact most of the Obama administration’s relaxation in Cuba policy. It remains to be seen exactly how the policy will be implemented through regulatory revisions, but it is clear the changes do not become effective until the revised regulations are issued, which is not expected for a few months.
The UK gives formal notification of intention to leave the European Union
Today, UK Prime Minister Theresa May sent a letter to the European Council, formally notifying it of the UK’s intention to leave the EU.
The notification, made under Article 50 of the EU Treaty, triggers a two-year process of negotiation of the terms on which the UK will exit the EU. Unless there is unanimous agreement between the UK and the other 27 Member States to extend the timetable, the UK will exit the EU by 29 March 2019, with or without exit terms.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) maintains mandatory reporting requirements for foreign investment into the United States via its Form BE-13 for most transactions in which a non-U.S. entity (1) acquires an ownership interest in a U.S. entity or real estate; or (2) establishes a new U.S. business enterprise in the United States. Reporting may also be required if a foreign entity expands its existing U.S. operations. In each case, even indirect foreign investment (for example, a foreign parent company uses one of its existing U.S. subsidiaries to buy another U.S. company) may trigger a BE-13 filing requirement.
Effective Jan. 17, 2017, the U.S. government significantly eased restrictions on transactions between U.S. persons and Sudan, against which comprehensive sanctions had previously been in place. Specifically, on Jan. 13, 2017, President Obama issued an Executive Order (EO), “Recognizing Positive Actions by the government of Sudan and Providing for the Revocation of Certain Sudan-Related Sanctions,” which added a new Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) general license (GL) authorizing all transactions previously prohibited under the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations (SSR). The new GL is valid for a period of six months. Provided the government of Sudan sustains the “positive actions” that led to the move, the EO provides for the final termination of the SSR July 12, 2017.
In late December 2016 and early January 2017, the U.S. government took action to sanction Russian individuals and intelligence agencies determined to be involved in hacking activities related to the November U.S. presidential election.
On Dec. 1, 2016, the U.S. Senate voted 99 to 0 to extend the Iran Sanctions Act, which is set to expire at the end of 2016, maintaining the United States’ comprehensive sanctions against Iran for 10 more years. The vote sends the bill to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the legislation (H.R. 6297, or the Iran Sanctions Extension Act (ISEA)) in November with a 419 to 1 vote. The ISEA will make no changes to the Iran Sanctions Act, which consists of sanctions against Iran for the country’s nuclear activity. The ISA includes energy, trade, and defense-related sanctions and was not affected by 2015’s nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The JCPOA removed certain of the United States’ sanctions against Iran in return for monitoring of, and substantial reductions in, Iran’s nuclear capabilities, but left the United States’ comprehensive sanctions program in place. Despite the JCPOA, the votes in Congress demonstrate continued, strong, bipartisan support for the comprehensive U.S. embargo against Iran.
While the nearly comprehensive U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba remains and will require an act of Congress to be eliminated, the U.S. government has issued another round of measures further easing the U.S. sanctions and export control restrictions against Cuba. Effective Oct. 17, 2016, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) measures support expanded trade between the countries. Specifically, the U.S. Government amended the existing Cuba Regulations (Cuban Assets Control Regulations and Export Administration Regulations) in several key areas:
- medical and pharmaceutical research and distribution;
- contingent contracts (of all kinds);
- infrastructure projects;
- humanitarian activities;
- exports/reexports and eCommerce;
- civil aviation; and
- certain travel and cargo-related transactions.
The U.S. government has announced significant increases to the maximum civil penalties for U.S. export controls and sanctions violations. The increases are required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (the FCPIA Act). Details of the penalty increases are described below and available in the Federal Register, Vol. 81, No. 109, 110, and 127. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has published updated guidance on how it will settle export controls enforcement cases.
In early July 2016, the EU extended the economic sanctions targeting the financial, energy and defense industries of the Russian economy, as well as dual-use goods, until Jan. 31, 2017. These sanctions were prolonged because the European Council determined that the Minsk agreements concerning military activity in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine have not been respected. This GT Alert provides for an update and an overview of the EU various sanctions against Russia and the Crimea and Sevastopol regions.
On July 1, 2016, the EU economic sanctions that target the financial, energy and defense industries of Russia, as well as dual-use goods, were prolonged until Jan.31, 2017. The sanctions were extended because the European Council determined that the Minsk agreements concerning a ceasefire to restore peace and the sovereign integrity of Ukraine’s state borders had not been respected. The EU Council, however, adopted and extended the sanctions on a unanimous basis, insisting that the Minsk agreements must be implemented completely.
This note provides an overview of the various trade models that could potentially govern UK-EU trade following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It is one of a series of GTM Alerts designed to assist businesses in identifying the legal issues to consider and address in response to the UK’s referendum vote of 23 June 2016 to withdraw from the European Union.