Trump Nominates Robert Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative

On January 3rd, President-Elect Trump nominated Robert E. Lighthizer as the U.S. Trade Representative. Lighthizer currently works as a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where he specializes in international trade issues. Before working at Skadden, Lighthizer worked as a Deputy U.S. Trade Representative in the Reagan Administration. Lighthizer was an early backer of Trump for president and is well known to be a skeptic on free trade, as well as a harsh critic of China’s trade practices. He has been a strong advocate for keeping the steel sector competitive in the U.S. As an attorney, Lighthizer represented the U.S. steel industry and other companies, helping to establish tariffs that have reduced Chinese steel imports. The U.S. Trade Representative office has responsibility over negotiating trade agreements with other countries, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was negotiated under the Obama Administration. Trump has already stated that he plans to withdraw from this deal on his first day in office.

Posted in Uncategorized

Trump’s New Trade Council and Advisor

President-elect Donald Trump announced the creation of a new White House National Trade Council and appointed economist Peter Navarro to head up this new council. Mr. Navarro is a professor at University of California, Irvine and known for his strong stance against trading with China. He has advocated for a more aggressive stance on economic relations with China and written several books, including: “The Coming China Wars” and “Death by China: Confronting the Dragon – A Global Call to Action,” which was made into a documentary film. Mr. Navarro believes that globalism has benefited China and harmed the American economy. Trump’s transition team stated that the new National Trade Council’s goal is to make U.S. manufacturing great again and bring American jobs home. During Trump’s campaign and in his “100 Day Action Plan to Make American Great Again,” he promised to label China as a currency manipulator and aggressively enforce trade law violators. Critics of Trump’s appointment are concerned that curtailing trade with China would ultimately damage the American economy.


Tagged with: ,
Posted in Trade

How Trump’s First 100 Day Plan Effects Trade

President-elect Donald Trump has released his “100-Day Action Plan to Make America Great Again.” The plan includes many policies that will impact trade. The first item on President-elect Trump’s plan is his promise to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205. This Article states that any party to the agreement can withdraw six months after providing written notice. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been in effect since 1994, when the agreement was negotiated by President George H.W. Bush and implemented when President Bill Clinton took office. In addition, President-elect Trump pledged to withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement, a trade agreement President Obama negotiated and is currently awaiting Congressional approval. President-elect Trump also said he would direct his Secretary of the Treasury (not yet announced) to label China a “currency manipulator.” During his campaign, Trump often stated that the only way China sells so many goods in America is because it has devalued its currency. Lastly, President-elect Trump promised to direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative (not yet announced) to “identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.” These proposed changes would not necessarily need congressional authorization, as international trade agreements have split authority between the White House and Congress.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Trade

Britain’s High Court Rules on Brexit

On November 3rd, Britain’s High Court ruled that before the country can leave the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May must first get approval from Parliament before the process can begin. The Prime Minister had previously said she plans to invoke Article 50, the legal mechanism used for exiting the EU, by the end of March 2017. This new ruling adds another step in the process, and further complicates the Brexit process. The government has appealed the ruling and Britain’s Supreme Court has granted this appeal. The Supreme Court has set aside four days, starting on December 5th, for all eleven Justices to hear the appeal.  According to a statement released by the Supreme Court, they will deliver their judgment “probably in the New Year.”

Many pro-Brexit politicians and a majority of the public were unhappy with the High Court’s decision. British voters chose to leave the EU (“Brexit”) earlier this year by a margin of 52% to leave and 48% to stay. While the public had voted by a majority on the referendum to leave, many members in Britain’s Parliament wanted Britain to stay in the EU. The idea that Parliament must now be consulted regarding any exit plans is seen as a blow to the Prime Minister. While it seems unlikely for Parliament to go against the will of the voters by blocking an exit plan, if the ruling stands, Theresa May would be forced to work with Parliament to negotiate a plan. Once Article 50 is triggered, the talks and negotiations will be lengthy and are likely to focus on border control/EU immigration and Britain’s desire to retain access to the EU’s single market.

Tagged with:
Posted in In The News

The White House Announces an End to Sanctions Against Myanmar

After nearly 20 years, the U.S. will lift economic sanctions against Myanmar (known as Burma until 1989). President Obama made this announcement on September 14, 2016 after meeting with the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.  This was Suu Kyi’s first visit to Washington since winning landmark elections last year for her party, the National League for Democracy. The Obama Administration has been working for years to normalize relations with Myanmar. Since 2011, the U.S. had been easing sanctions as the country has demonstrated progress in reducing the military’s influence on the government, which was a requirement.

 While some U.S. sanctions will remain, this announcement eases trade across many industries with Myanmar and the United States.  The Obama Administration is continuing to push Myanmar to change the country’s constitution in order to reduce the military’s power even further. Currently, Myanmar’s military still controls the country’s defense and interior ministries and shares power with Suu Kyi’s administration.


Posted in In The News

Cozen Represented at Georgetown Law Careers in International Law Panel Discussion

On July 20, 2016, Marcy Stras moderated and spoke at a panel entitled, “Pathways to Employment in International Law.” The panel was hosted by the American Bar Association Section of International Law and was held at the Georgetown University Law Center. In addition to Marcy, representing Cozen O’Connor, the panel included: Adejoke Babington-Ashaye from The World Bank and Michael H. Byowitz from Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz. The discussion was geared towards law students, new lawyers, and other professional interested in international law. The goal was to bring law students and new lawyers together with experienced practitioners to explore opportunities for employment in international law. More than 100 students attended the event and kept the speakers an extra hour with questions after it was to end.

Posted in In The News

China Loses Claims to the South China Sea in Landmark Decision

On Tuesday, China received a binding decision from the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, Netherlands, regarding territorial claims in the South China Sea. The international tribunal ruled unanimously that China’s expansive assertion of sovereignty over the South China Sea had no legal or historical basis. The case was originally brought by the Philippines in 2013, and the case marks the first time the Chinese government has been summoned before the international justice system. The Philippines had asked the tribunal to find the claim to be in violation of the United Nationals Convention on the Law of Sea, which both China and the Philippines have ratified. Not only did the tribunal reject China’s argument that it enjoys historic rights over most of the South China Sea, it also said that China had violated international law by causing irreparable harm to the marine environment, endangering Philippine ships and interfering with Philippine fishing and oil exploration. While the decision is legally binding, there is no mechanism for enforcing it. China did not participate in the tribunal’s proceedings and has pointedly rejected the decision and the government said they would not abide by it. There is much economic commerce performed in the South China Sea and the waters are claimed by several countries East Asia, including Vietnam and Malaysia.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Arbitration

Our International Practice Group is Growing!

Welcome Steven J. Dickinson!

Steve is the Co-Chair of the International Practice and his practice centers on domestic and international business transactions for both U.S. and International companies. In the U.S., Steve represents clients in mergers and acquisitions, capital formation, complex contract negotiations and other collaborative business transactions. These range from private equity investments to multi-party procurement contracts to acquisitions and sales valued at more than $1 billion. Steve represents U.S. companies in their international business, including acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances, construction and sales contracts, and distribution arrangements, as well as operational issues such as international tax planning, entity formation, financing, employment, intellectual property, and compliance matters including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and export control regulations. Steve has represented numerous companies in doing business in China and throughout Asia, as well as in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union and Canada. Steve also assists international companies in establishing operations in the United States.

Welcome Barbara Müller!

Barbara is a Member, and her practice is focused on mergers and acquisitions, corporate formation and governance and renewable energies. Barbara earned law degrees in both Germany and in the United States making her uniquely qualified to assist U.S. companies entering the German market and German companies expanding to the U.S. market. She has worked on the acquisitions of companies in Germany for U.S. clients and the related agreements, such as employment and lease agreements. In addition, Barbara has successfully facilitated the resolution of a number of diverse U.S.-German issues her clients faced, such as the enforcement of German judgments in the U.S., the defense against temporary restraining orders in the U.S. and Germany, the finalization and taxation of inheritances made by U.S. clients in Germany or to be made by German clients with assets in the U.S., the sale of real estate owned by U.S. clients in Germany and family law issues, such as the acknowledgment of a U.S. divorce decree in Germany or the assistance with divorce of a U.S. citizen in Germany.

Barbara graduated from the university in Bohn, Germany in 1987 and worked as law clerk in various areas before she finished her German legal education in June 1990 with honors. In Germany, Barbara focused on European legal and business issues. Before she came to Minnesota in 1996, she was chief of division in the Department of European Affairs in the German State of Hesse.

Posted in Uncategorized

OFAC Updates Cuba-Related FAQ Document

On April 21, 2016, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) updated its FAQ document related to Cuba. This document contains answers to several questions regarding information about Cuba such as Embargo, Travel, and Trade/Business. Recently, the OFAC updated information related to Banking, Trade/Business, and Telecommunications. The FAQ document was first published in December 2014 as a result of President Obama’s announcement to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba. The FAQ document is updated regularly to reflect changes to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and provide the most up-to-date information on the United States’ relations with Cuba.

To read the Treasury’s FAQ document, click here.

Rachel is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in In The News, Trade

OFAC Further Amends the Cuban Assets Control Regulations Regarding Travel and Financial Transactions

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations to further implement elements of the policy announced by the President on December 17, 2014 to engage and empower the Cuban people. These additional changes were published in the Federal Register on March 16, 2016.

OFAC has made amendments to the Regulations with respect to travel and related transactions, financial transactions, and business and physical presence. Among other things, these amendments further facilitate travel to Cuba for authorized purposes, expand the range of authorized financial transactions, and authorize additional business and physical presence in Cuba. The amendments also implement certain technical and conforming changes.

Travel and Related Transactions:

OFAC has amended section 515.565(b) to remove the requirement that people-to-people educational travel be conducted under the auspices of an organization that sponsors such exchanges. This section now authorizes individuals to travel to Cuba provided that, among other things, the traveler engages while in Cuba in a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that are intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities, and that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba. The predominant portion of the activities engaged in by the traveler must NOT be with certain Government of Cuba or Cuban Communist Party officials. Persons relying upon this authorization must retain records related to the authorized travel transactions, including records demonstrating a full-time schedule of authorized activities.

OFAC has amended section 515.571 to remove the limitation on the receipt of compensation in excess of amounts covering living expenses and the acquisition of goods for personal consumption by a Cuban national present in the United States in a nonimmigrant status or pursuant to other non-immigrant travel authorization issued by the U.S. government. New section (a)(5)(i) explicitly authorizes the receipt of any salary or other compensation consistent with the individual’s non-immigrant status or other non-immigrant travel authorization, provided that the recipient is not subject to any special tax assessment by the Cuban government in connection with the receipt of the salary or other compensation. New section 515.571(e) authorizes all transactions related to the sponsorship or hiring of a Cuban national to work in the United States and provides that an employer may not make additional payments to the Cuban government in connection with the sponsorship or hiring of a Cuban national. This section also authorizes transactions in connection with the filing of an application for non-immigrant travel authorization. OFAC has added section 515.585(c) to authorize individuals who are persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction and who are located in a third country to engage in the purchase or acquisition of merchandise subject to the prohibitions in section 515.204, including Cuban-origin goods, for personal consumption while in a third country, and to receive or obtain services from Cuba or a Cuban national that are ordinarily incident to travel and maintenance within a third country. This provision does not authorize the importation of such merchandise into the United States, including as accompanied baggage.

Financial Transactions:

OFAC has authorized U-turn transactions, in which Cuba or a Cuban national has an interest to be conducted through the U.S. financial system. This provision authorizes funds transfers from a bank outside the United States that pass through one or more U.S. financial institutions before being transferred to a bank outside the United States where neither the originator nor the beneficiary is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction

OFAC has added a new section to authorize U.S. banking institutions to process U.S. dollar monetary instruments presented indirectly by Cuban financial institutions. Correspondent accounts used for transactions authorized pursuant to this section may be denominated in U.S. dollars. This section does not authorize banking institutions subject to U.S. jurisdiction to open correspondent accounts for banking institutions that are nationals of Cuba.

OFAC has added another new section to authorize banking institutions to open and maintain accounts solely in the name of a Cuban national located in Cuba for the purposes only of receiving payments in the United States in connection with transactions authorized pursuant to or exempt from the prohibitions of this part and remitting such payments to Cuba. This provision would allow, for example, a Cuban national author located in Cuba to open an account with a bank or online payment platform in the United States to receive payments for sales of her book.

Business and Physical Presence:

In September 2015, OFAC amended sections 515.542 and 515.578 to authorize persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to establish and maintain a business presence in Cuba, including through subsidiaries, branches, offices, joint ventures, franchises, and agency or other business relationships with any Cuban individual or entity, to facilitate the provision of authorized telecommunications and internet-based services. OFAC has now expanded this authorization to establish a business presence to include the following additional categories of persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction (all of whom were previously authorized to establish a physical presence): exporters of goods authorized for export or reexport to Cuba by section 515.533 or section 515.559 or that are otherwise exempt; entities providing mail or parcel transmission services authorized by section 515.542(a) or providing cargo transportation services in connection with trade involving Cuba authorized by or exempt from the prohibitions of this part; and providers of travel and carrier services authorized by section 515.572. OFAC has clarified that the business and physical presence authorization for providers of internet-based services extends to persons engaged in transactions authorized by section 515.578(e). OFAC has removed the prior provisions authorizing business presence that were located in sections 515.542 and 515.578 and consolidated these authorizations in section 515.573.

In September 2015, OFAC amended section 515.573 to authorize certain persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to establish a physical presence, such as an office or other facility, in Cuba, to facilitate authorized transactions. OFAC has now expanded this authorization to include the following additional categories of persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction: entities engaging in non-commercial activities authorized by section 515.574 (Support for the Cuban People); entities engaging in humanitarian projects set forth in section 515.575(b) (Humanitarian projects); and private foundations or research or educational institutes engaging in transactions authorized by section 515.576. OFAC has also added a note to clarify that the activities that may be carried out by exporters of items exported or reexported pursuant to authorization by the Department of Commerce or OFAC, or that are otherwise exempt, at a physical presence authorized by this section include the assembly of such items.

Other Transactions:

OFAC has added a new provision to authorize the provision of educational grants, scholarships, or awards to a Cuban national or in which Cuba or a Cuban national otherwise has an interest. This could include, for example, the provision of educational scholarships for Cuban students to pursue academic studies for a degree. OFAC has amended section 515.578 to allow the importation of Cuban-origin software. OFAC has also made several technical and conforming edits.

The above information is taken from OFAC’s final rule regarding these amendments. To read more about these regulations, read the full rule here.

Rachel is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Trade, Treaties/Agreements
About Beyond Borders
In a world of growing global interdependence, laws are transcending borders and increasingly affecting international business. Thus, making significant developments in the international community of utmost importance. Cozen O’Connor’s international business law blog, Beyond Borders: An International Business Blog, focuses on topics, trends and laws impacting the international business community.
Subscribe to Updates


About the Editors
Cozen O’Connor Blogs