Last night, President Trump issued two Executive Orders establishing a framework for prohibiting transactions involving popular Chinese-owned communications apps WeChat and TikTok.[1]  Contrary to some press reports, the Executive Orders do not prohibit all transactions with their respective parent companies; they do not in fact set out the scope of the restrictions.  Rather, they give the Commerce Department authority to prohibit any transaction involving a U.S. person or within the jurisdiction of the United States involving the two services; each of the Executive Orders clearly states “45 days after the date of this order, the Secretary shall identify the transactions subject to subsection (a) of this section [which contains the broad authority to prohibit].”[2]  Furthermore, the scope of Commerce’s authority is subtly (and no doubt intentionally) different in the two Executive Orders: with respect to TikTok, the authority covers any transaction with ByteDance, TikTok’s parent; with respect to WeChat, the authority covers any transaction relating to WeChat involving its parent, Tencent Holding.  Commerce will, within 45 days, take further action specifying exactly which transactions will be prohibited; it is even possible, particularly with respect to TikTok if the mooted divestiture of U.S. operations occurs, that no restrictions will be imposed.[3]  Unless and until Commerce implements the Executive Orders, no restrictions are in place and their precise future scope is unknown.
Continue Reading President Trump Authorizes Restrictions on WeChat and TikTok; Details to Come

Yesterday, updated guidance from the U.S. Department of State relating to Section 232 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (“CAATSA”) was published in the Federal Register.[1]  The updated guidance, which became effective on July 15, 2020, expands the potential applicability of secondary sanctions pursuant to Section 232 with respect to Nord Stream 2 and the second line of TurkStream.  Any work on or financial involvement in NordStream 2 or the second line of TurkStream will now be sanctionable, even if undertaken pursuant to an existing contract.  This could affect, among other things, lending and other financing to companies (including European companies) with any connection to either project.

Continue Reading Updated Guidance for Section 232 of CAATSA Published

On July 14, President Trump issued an Executive Order pursuant to the Hong Kong Policy Act eliminating the separate status of Hong Kong and China under various provisions of U.S. law, including export controls, immigration, tax, and extradition, as well as providing for the implementation of recent Hong-Kong related sanctions authorities.

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Today, President Donald Trump signed into law the Hong Kong Autonomy Act (“HKAA”), authorizing the U.S. administration to impose blocking sanctions against individuals and entities (as well as visa bans in the case of individuals) determined to “materially contribute” to the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.  The HKAA further authorizes secondary sanctions, including the imposition of blocking sanctions, against foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct a significant transaction with foreign persons sanctioned under this authority.[1]
Continue Reading United States Enacts Additional Hong-Kong Related Sanctions; Impact Remains Unclear

On June 3, 2020, the International Chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal rejected an annulment application brought against an arbitral award rendered by a Paris-seated ICC arbitration tribunal. The ICC tribunal on December 27, 2018 rendered an award in favor of the Iranian Natural Gas Storage Company (“NGSC”), in a dispute arising out of

This Trade Summary provides an overview of WTO dispute settlement decisions and panel activities, and EU decisions and measures on commercial policy, customs policy and external relations, for the first quarter of 2020.

If you have any questions regarding the above, do not hesitate to contact fclaprevote@cgsh.com or tmuelleribold@cgsh.com.

On June 4, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued the Syria-Related Sanctions Regulations (SRSR).  Not to be confused with the pre-existing Syrian Sanctions Regulations found in 31 C.F.R. Part 542, the SRSR, which are found in 31 C.F.R. Part 569, are intended to

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und EnergieBMWi), led by federal minister Peter Altmaier, announced a major revision of Germany’s foreign direct investment control regime (FDI Regime) to come into force in 2020, in what would become the third amendment of the FDI Regime since 2017. This announcement was made as part of the introduction of the BMWi’s “National Industry Strategy 2030”. The aim of this new industrial policy is to “protect and regain Germany’s commercial and technical expertise, competitiveness and industrial leadership at national, European and global level”.

Continue Reading Changes to the German Foreign Direct Investment Control Regime Take Shape Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

On May 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued an interim final rule (the Interim Rule) amending the direct product rule under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to further restrict Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (Huawei) and its affiliates designated on the Entity List from receiving semiconductor and other products produced outside the United States using U.S.-origin software and technology.  The changes, which are effective immediately (but subject to two savings clauses), could have a significant impact on the ability of non-U.S. foundries that manufacture semiconductor products for Huawei and its affiliates (e.g., HiSilicon) using U.S.-origin software or technology to continue to do so (and could have a corresponding significant impact on the competitiveness of U.S. semiconductor manufacturing equipment and software).  BIS also extended the temporary general license (TGL) that authorizes certain activities subject to the EAR involving Huawei and its affiliates through August 13, 2020.[1]
Continue Reading BIS Expands Export Restrictions on Huawei, Extends Temporary General License

On April 20, OFAC issued COVID-related guidance indicating that it encourages those subject to its jurisdiction to contact the OFAC staff if they believe they will have difficulty meeting OFAC deadlines (whether reporting deadlines, responses to administrative subpoenas, or other matters).  OFAC also encouraged electronic submission of any communications.  In our experience, OFAC is still functioning at a relatively high level, remote operations notwithstanding, but the staff has also been flexible in responding to the challenges all institutions face.  As OFAC’s guidance and our own experience underline, open communication with the staff is very important.
Continue Reading OFAC Issues Guidance on COVID’s Impact on Compliance and Enforcement