The European Commission released a list of U.S. products on Friday, March 16, that could be subject to tariffs if the President does not exclude the EU from the Section 232 tariffs. The list was released a week after President Trump signed the proclamations to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, which officially take effect on March 23.

Canada and Mexico are currently excluded from the tariffs, but other countries with a ‘security relationship’ to the United States could be eligible for exemption. The U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, is leading the negotiations with countries seeking exemptions from the Section 232 tariffs. The European Commission, along with Brazil, South Korea, Japan, India, and Australia, has pressed the United States to exempt them from the upcoming tariffs.

The products that could be subjected to the retaliatory tariffs include U.S. agricultural goods such as sweetcorn, grain rice, and cranberries, along with Kentucky bourbon, cigars, t-shirts, jeans, and motorcycles.


On March 15, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated as Specially Designated Nationals (“SDNs”) 2 new persons under an existing Obama-era cyber Executive Order, and 13 new persons under new authority granted by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). This was the first time OFAC has utilized any of the multitude of CAATSA authorities to designate new SDNs.

The agency also updated nine previously sanctioned persons, adding the Cyber and/or CAATSA designations.

As background, CAATSA Section 224 requires the imposition of asset blocking sanctions on a person the President determines “knowingly engages in significant activities undermining cybersecurity” on behalf of the Government of Russia.

These actions are closely linked to the recent Mueller indictment of Russian persons for allegedly interfering with U.S. elections. All 15 defendants in that indictment have now been designated as SDNs: three of them were previously designated (but have now been re-designated under a second authority) and the 12 others were newly designated as part of this action. Specifically, the Internet Research Agency LLC is named in the indictment, as are 11 individuals linked to the company.

OFAC amended Cyber General License No. 1, “Authorizing Certain Transactions with the Federal Security Service” (GL 1), and reissued it as Cyber General License No. 1A (GL 1A). GL1A has the same net effect as GL1 insofar as it authorizes transactions, subject to certain conditions, with the Federal Security Service (a.k.a. Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti) (a.k.a. FSB) related to certain licensing and authorization functions that the FSB performs. The only change under GL1A was to clarify that the authorization continues to apply despite the FSB’s new designation under CAATSA Section 224 (i.e., GL1A authorizes transactions otherwise prohibited by both the Cyber sanctions and Section 224).

OFAC also published four updated FAQs relating to GL 1A and one updated CAATSA-related FAQ related to this action.

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Robert Lighthizer initiated an investigation on August 18, 2017 pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The probe will determine whether acts, policies, and practices of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) related to technology transfer, intellectual property, trade secrets, and innovation are discriminatory towards U.S. firms by undermining the United States’ ability to compete fairly in the global market. Section 301 allows the President to retaliate by removing any act, policy, or practice of a foreign government that violates an international agreement.

The investigation began after PRC President Xi Jinping unveiled a cybersecurity law to “protect personal information and individual privacy,” as reflected in China’s Made in China 2025 initiative. The law requires foreign companies operating in China to store their data on local servers. U.S. companies are now also being instructed to participate in joint ventures with Chinese enterprises, therefore sharing valuable technology information with their Chinese counterparts.

USTR allegedly finalized its report in December 2017, and the remedies are undergoing vetting in the interagency process. However, the U.S. may partner with the European Union and Japan to seek consultations through the WTO, rather than solve the issue unilaterally.

Pursuant to the Trade Act, Ambassador Lighthizer must determine within 12 months from the date of the initiation whether the Chinese government violated U.S. intellectual property laws. The retaliatory action proposed by USTR, if any, must be implemented within 30 days of the determination. USTR may delay the implementation up to 180 days if the agency determines that substantial progress could be made by the foreign government. If the determination is affirmative, then USTR will decide what action to take.

If Ambassador Lighthizer recommends retaliation under Section 301, the President could impose sanctions on certain Chinese industries, specifically steel. The current administration has demonstrated a tough stance on overcapacity by imposing a 25 percent global tariff on imported steel products, and a 10 percent global tariff on imported aluminum products.

As expected, the Chinese government is already demonstrating “tit for tat” retaliation by self-initiating anti-dumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) investigations on imports of sorghum from the United States. In addition, China is already among one of the countries that has requested consultations from the WTO regarding the safeguard measures on solar cells and residential washing machines.

The USTR is expected to release its findings to the President within the coming months.

Venezuela has frequently been in the news lately, not only because of domestic politics, but also because of sanctions and bribery enforcement actions brought by U.S. authorities. In this podcast, Crowell & Moring’s Cari Stinebower, Dalal Hasan, Eduardo Mathison, and Mariana Pendás provide an overview of recent political and enforcement developments in Venezuela and explain what U.S. companies need to know about how these developments could impact business and trade ties with Venezuela.

Discussed in this 23-minute podcast:

  • An overview of the political situation in Venezuela.
  • Implications of U.S. and EU current sanctions targeting Venezuela and the potential for new sanctions.
  • FinCEN guidance on identifying corruption and money laundering red flags from Venezuela transactions.
  • Legal protections and International Dispute Resolution options for companies provided in Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) signed by Venezuela.
  • Takeaways for companies with business ties to Venezuela.

Click below to listen via the embedded player or access from the link:

The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds Regulations 2017 require the UK regulated sector to apply enhanced customer due diligence to high-risk countries.

In response to recent statements from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), HM Treasury advises firms to consider the following:

Consider as high risk and apply counter measures and enhanced due diligence measures in accordance with the risks Consider as high risk and apply enhanced due diligence measures in accordance with the risks Take appropriate actions to minimise the associated risks, which may include enhanced due diligence measures in high risk situations
DRPK* Iran* Ethiopia, Iraq*, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria*, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia*, Vanuatu, and Yemen*

*These jurisdictions are subject to sanctions measures at the time of publication of this notice which require firms to take additional measures. For details, please click here.

On February 15, 2018, Representative Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced new legislation intended to “modernize U.S. export control regulations of dual-use items.”

In spite of its title, the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 (H.R. 5040) does little to further the original goals of the Export Control Reform initiative and appears more squarely focused on using the Export Administration Regulations to prevent U.S. adversaries — principally the PRC — from gaining access to U.S. “emerging critical technologies,” whether dual-use or solely commercial. The bill is the newest in a series that have been introduced without success since the Export Administration Act lapsed in 2001. Its fate appears tied to the ongoing CFIUS reform efforts, which this bill seeks to complement by enhancing regulatory controls on technology transfers of concern.

Much of the legislation would codify the current practices of the Department of Commerce and other U.S. export control regulatory agencies, and so do not appear to present significant changes. Notably, however, the bill diverges sharply with respect to its proposed definition of “U.S. Persons,” which excludes entities organized under U.S. law unless U.S. individuals “own, directly or indirectly, more than 50 percent of the outstanding capital stock or other beneficial interest in such legal entity.” The definition appears unworkable; publicly traded companies would have difficulty certifying that they meet a 50 percent U.S. ownership requirement, and, absent a comprehensive licensing mechanism or a broad exemption scheme, foreign-owned U.S. companies would be effectively unable to manufacture and export CCL-controlled items.

Other sections of the legislation appear focused on expanding congressional oversight of the Departments of State and Commerce’s ability to license or otherwise authorize activities with the U.S. embargoed countries or nationals thereof. The provisions reflect a congressional desire to curtail the Executive branch from unilaterally relaxing such export controls, seemingly in reaction to the previous administration’s approach toward Cuba.

The 7th round of NAFTA negotiations took place in Mexico City from February 25-March 5 with relatively little fanfare as the talks were overshadowed by President Trump’s comments that his administration would impose Section 232 tariffs on aluminum and steel imports. Following the close of the round, President Trump issued Presidential Proclamations announcing the tariffs on March 8.

Officials are nearing completion of chapters on telecommunications and technical barriers to trade and closed discussions on good regulatory practices, administration and publication, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS). The three parties also agreed to a specific chapter dedicated to energy, which the U.S. previously opposed.

On the more difficult issues, some discussions are taking place but the path to completion remains unclear.

  • Autos rule of origin: Officials reportedly continued discussions over Canada’s proposal on the rule of origin for autos, which would incorporate intellectual property and technology in determining country of origin. However, the U.S. has still not given any sign it will move away from its initial proposal requiring a regional content requirement of 85 percent and a U.S.-originating content requirement of 50 percent.
  • State-to-state dispute settlement: Mexico and Canada have proposed modifying the rules for selection of panelists in state-to-state dispute settlement. However, it remains unclear whether the U.S. will agree to a form of binding dispute settlement.
  • Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS): Canada and Mexico have initiated bilateral discussions on ISDS without the United States. The Unite States has not shown signs of seeking any ISDS commitments thus far beyond the “opt-in” system it initially proposed.
  • Procurement: Similar to ISDS, Canada and Mexico are discussing bilateral options for liberalizing procurement access for their respective markets. The U.S. has thus far not engaged in these discussions.

There was no joint statement following the March round. U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer noted progress made on relatively non-controversial chapters but warned that “time is running very short” for the negotiations.

NAFTA talks could be further complicated by President Trump’s action to impose Section 232 tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, effective March 23. President Trump’s March 8 Presidential Proclamations on the tariffs initially exempts imports from Canada and Mexico, but appears to suggest that the exemptions are conditioned on ongoing discussions to address transshipment through both countries.

Meanwhile, statements by USTR Lighthizer and President Trump have suggested that the aluminum and steel tariffs could be used as a bargaining chip during NAFTA negotiations. Canada and Mexico have insisted that the discussions are on separate tracks.

The next NAFTA round is tentatively scheduled for the week of April 8 in Washington D.C.


Within the last month, both the United States and European Union have decided to extend the authorities underpinning some or all of their Russia-related sanctions programs.

For the United States this involved renewing the “national emergency” finding that provides the basis for each of the Russia-related Executive Orders while in the European Union this involved renewing several of the authorities that are only implemented for six or 12 months at a time.

The tables at the links below identify the relevant authority, most recent extension, and next extension deadline by jurisdiction.

For U.S. Russia-related Sanctions information, please click here.

For EU Russia-related Sanctions information, please click here.



The president’s decision last week to impose a 25 percent global tariff on certain steel imports, and a 10 percent global tariff on certain aluminum imports, includes the following products:

Aluminum products within the scope of the global tariffs:

  • Primary unwrought aluminum, not alloyed – 7601.10
  • Primary unwrought aluminum, alloyed – 7601.20
  • Semi-finished aluminum bars, rods, and profiles – 7604
  • Aluminum wire – 7605
  • Semi-finished aluminum plates, sheets, and strip – 7606
  • Foil of all types – 7607
  • Tubes and Pipe Extrusions – 7608
  • Tube or Pipe Fittings – 7609
  • Castings and Forgings – 7616.99.5160 and 7616.99.5170

Steel products within the broad scope of the global tariffs:

  • Carbon and alloy flat products – produced by rolling semi-finished steel through varying sets of rolls, including sheets, strips, and plates.
  • Carbon and alloy long products – that fall outside the flat products category, including bars, rails, rods, and beams.
  • Carbon and alloy pipe and tube products – either seamless or welded pipes and tubes, some of which may include stainless and alloys other than stainless.
  • Carbon and alloy semi-finished products – consisting of initial, intermediate solid forms of molten steel, to be re-heated and further forged, rolled, shaped, or otherwise worked into finished steel products, including blooms, billets, slabs, ingots, and steel for castings.
  • Stainless steel products – flat-rolled, pipe and tube, and semi-finished forms, containing at minimum 10.5 percent chromium and, by weight, 1.2 percent or less of carbon, offering better corrosion resistance than other steel.

The tariffs are effective on March 23.

Companies can seek to get product exclusions of the aforementioned products via exclusion requests. The Secretary will publish the procedures on the Federal Register notice by March 18, 2018.

For what is known about product exclusions at this time, please click here.

On March 8, President Trump officially signed proclamations imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum pursuant to Section 232(b) of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

The signing of the proclamations came exactly one week after the president abruptly announced his decision to impose the global tariffs during a White House meeting with key steel and aluminum executives.

The effective date of the tariffs is March 23, exactly 15 days after the official announcement.

The proclamations provide for Country Exemptions and Product Exclusions.

Country Exemptions

The tariffs apply to steel and aluminum imported from all countries. However, Mexico and Canada are exempt from the tariffs. Certain other countries with which the United States has “a security relationship” may be eligible for a similar exemption. No countries are listed and the term “security relationship” is undefined. The U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, will lead negotiations with countries seeking such exemptions. A timeframe for such discussions has not been announced.

Product Exclusions

The specific procedure to seek product exclusions has not yet been announced. The proclamations require it to be “issued within 10 days,” which is March 18. The Department of Commerce, in coordination with other agencies including the Department of Defense and the U.S. Trade Representative, is responsible for creating the procedures, as well as reviewing and approving submitted product exclusion requests.

The proclamations included certain requirements for product exclusions.

First, an exclusion request may only be made by “a directly affected party located in the United States.” Thus, foreign entities appear ineligible to submit the request.

Second, the following criteria are listed for exclusion requests:

  1. An eligible requestor must show a product is not produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount, or of a satisfactory quality.
  2. The request must be based on specific national security considerations.

Country Retaliation

Shortly after the president announced his decision to impose a global tariff on steel and aluminum imports, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, drafted a proposal for dispute settlement consultations with the United States. Other countries also announced retaliation on U.S. exports including Kentucky bourbon, orange juice, Levi jeans, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and certain steel products under Chapters 72 and 73 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. This sets the stage for international negotiations.

To keep up with the latest developments on the Section 232 steel and aluminum investigations and tariffs, please click here to subscribe to the blog’s Section 232 Investigations section.