On August 25, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order severely restricting transactions in debt and equity of the Government of Venezuela and of state-owned entities; including Petroleos de Venezuela; S.A. (PdVSA). Simultaneously with the Executive Order; OFAC issued a number of general licenses and Frequently Asked Questions relating to the new sanctions. These new actions build on sanctions targeting Venezuelan officials; discussed here; and continue the trend toward targeted “bespoke” sanctions short of full blocking of all transactions with a targeted regime or country.

The new sanctions:

  • Prohibit dealings in existing debt of the Government of Venezuela (and its controlled entities) by U.S. persons or within U.S. jurisdiction; subject to an extensive list of exceptions for specified issuances;
  • Prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within U.S. jurisdiction in new debt of the Government of Venezuela with a duration of longer than 30 days and of PdVSA with a duration of longer than 90 days; or new equity of any state-controlled entity;
  • Bar the purchase of securities from the Government of Venezuela within U.S. jurisdiction; other than permitted new debt; and
  • Bar all distributions of profits and earnings within U.S. jurisdiction to the Government of Venezuela by state-owned entities.

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Background

On August 2, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia. Days earlier, the proposed legislation sparked a vigorous reaction in the European Union.

On July 26, 2017, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned of “unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU’s energy security interests”. In the same vein, the French government opined that the extra-territorial reach of the text appears to breach international law. The German and Austrian governments also issued a joint statement disapproving of the proposal’s encroachment into European energy supply matters. Continue Reading EU Reacts to Impact of Russia Sanctions Bill on European Energy Investments

On July 31, OFAC designated Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Moros as a “Specially Designated National” (“SDN”) blocking all of his assets and prohibiting any transaction in which he has an interest within U.S. jurisdiction. Last week, on July 26, OFAC designated 13 other current and former Venezuelan officials as SDNs, including Rocco Albisinni Serrano, who is the President of CENCOEX (the Venezuelan foreign exchange authority), and Simon Alejandro Zerpa Delgado, who is the Vice President of Finance for PDVSA and the President of Venezuela’s Economic and Social Development Bank (“BANDES”), and the President of Venezuela’s National Development Fund (“FONDEN”). There have been rumors that the United States was considering restricting oil sales from Venezuela, but at the moment no such sanctions have been imposed. Continue Reading OFAC Sanctions Venezuelan Officials

On June 16, 2017, the President released a National Security Presidential Memorandum, which outlines the Trump Administration’s national security and economic policy towards Cuba. The Presidential Directive lays out the framework for rolling back certain Obama-era regulations that eased travel and trade restrictions between the United States and Cuba. The White House has released a fact sheet related to today’s Presidential Directive, and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) has released a list of frequently asked questions.

Continue Reading President Trump Announces Limited Roll-Back of Obama-Era Cuba Sanctions Relief

Background

Fifteen years ago, China joined the World Trade Organization (“WTO”). To alleviate concerns of cheap Chinese goods flooding international markets at that time, China agreed to allow other WTO members to continue conducting their anti-dumping calculations in a special way, thereby recognizing the concerns of certain members that prices of Chinese goods could be distorted due to state interference. This methodology considered China as a “non-market economy” (“NME”). In a nutshell, this means other countries can disregard Chinese prices or costs, and can use “alternative methods” (external benchmarks, such as hypothetical costs of a third country) to determine the margin of dumping in an investigation. In doing so, authorities will typically end up levying higher anti-dumping duties on Chinese goods.

Continue Reading Anti-Dumping, Non-Market Economy and Chinese Goods – Where Do We Stand in the EU?