Photo of Eric McClafferty

Earlier this week, the COVID-19 Accountability Act was introduced in the Senate and the House by Rep. Senator Lindsey Graham and Rep. Doug Collins respectively.  While the text of the draft legislation is not yet available, a summary indicates that it would require within sixty days that the President certify to Congress that China has:

The Department of State’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Policy announced that they are temporarily suspending, modifying, and excepting certain International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) requirements in an effort to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The temporary changes are as follows:

  • As of February 29, 2020, ITAR registrations and fees with an

Our previous blog post listed the specific types of PPE respirators, masks, and gloves restricted for export from the U.S. on April 10, 2020 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 21, 2020, FEMA published a list of exemptions to those export restrictions which includes:

  • shipments to

On April 22, 2020, President Trump ordered Chevron to “wind down” its business in Venezuela by December 1, 2020. This will have a significant impact on companies that supply Chevron with equipment used for oil and gas projects in Venezuela that were previously licensed.

Effective April 21, 2020, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign

On April 10, 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a temporary final rule (TFR), pursuant to the Defense Protection Act (DPA) and related authorities[1], to require explicit approval for exports of certain personal protective equipment (PPE).  This TFR is aimed at allocating certain scarce or threatened materials for domestic use as needed for national defense during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The TFR took effect April 7, 2020, and remains effective until August 10, 2020.  This date could be extended.

Five Types of PPE Currently Covered:

Pursuant to this TFR, shipments of the following five types of PPE, determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to be “scarce or threatened materials”, may NOT leave the United States without explicit FEMA approval:

  • N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators, including devices that are disposable half-face-piece non-powered air-purifying particulate respirators intended for use to cover the nose and mouth to reduce exposure to pathogenic biological airborne particulates;
  • Other Filtering Facepiece Respirators (e.g., those designated as N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, or P95, P99, P100), including single-use, disposable half-mask respiratory protective devices that cover the user’s airway and offer protection from particulate materials at an N95 filtration efficiency level;
  • Elastomeric, air-purifying respirators and appropriate particulate filters/cartridges;
  • PPE surgical masks, including masks that cover the user’s nose and mouth and provide a physical barrier to fluids and particulate materials; and
  • PPE gloves or surgical gloves, including exam and surgical gloves, as well as gloves intended for the same purposes.

Note that this list is not exhaustive, and that the FEMA Administrator may add other materials if they are determined to be scarce and critical materials essential for national defense.  Other such materials would be added to this allocation order, and there would be a Federal Register notice.

FEMA Approval Process

Pursuant to this TFR, before any shipments of these materials may leave the United States, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) will detain the shipment temporarily, so that FEMA may determine in a reasonable time period, which is not defined, and acting based on promoting national defense how to proceed.  They could either issue a rated order for all or part of the shipment and return the merchandise for domestic use (i.e., not allowing the export at all), or they could allow the export in whole or in part.
Continue Reading FEMA Issues New Rule Requiring Approval for Exports of Certain Personal Protective Equipment

Even as companies make rapid changes to respond to business challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, executives and compliance team leaders must protect their company and employees by continuing to comply with critical U.S. international trade laws and regulations (including those addressing customs, anti-corruption, export controls, and economic sanctions).  Trade regulations are not suspended, and it is important to not make assumptions or conclude that the law does not apply during this difficult time with all of the issues competing for attention, not least family and employee health and company survival.  With the need to move so quickly, we have seen clients inadvertently come close to trade compliance violations that would not pose a problem for them in normal times.  The following suggestions are intended to help companies reduce the risk of certain significant federal international trade law violations and avoid inbound and outbound shipment delays – while continuing to operate.

Trade rules and surrounding circumstances are changing quickly.  For example, the Administration very recently appeared to be seriously considering suspending or lowering certain import tariffs, but backed away from that approach given the complexity of administering a revised system on short notice, among other problems.  You are likely also seeing reports about various countries’ restrictions on exports of medicine, medical equipment (including protective equipment and ventilators), and food, among other products.  How do you keep up with what is actually happening that may affect your company and what is just rumor that you do not need to react to?

One step companies are taking is to include key personnel from their trade compliance and legal teams in the decision processes related to changing international transactions.  You need to move quickly, but including a team member who knows trade rules can help keep things on track and help avoid clear compliance errors.

Here are four substantive areas of U.S. trade regulation that should continue to be part of international transaction diligence:  U.S. anti-corruption, export controls, and sanctions laws (that permit most exports of medicines, medical devices, and food to sanctioned locations), and U.S. Customs rules on personal protective equipment and medical devices (among other imported items).
Continue Reading COVID-19 – Four Key International Trade Compliance Considerations

Elliott Abrams, the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, announced a plan to lift sanctions on Venezuela should the Maduro regime step aside to permit a transitional government to be elected until full elections can take place in late 2020.[1]   If there is transition of power, individual sanctions on dozens of Venezuelan government officials could

Treasury Issues New Guidance Regarding June 21, 2019 Amendment to the Reporting, Procedures, and Penalties Regulations (“RPPR”)

In late February, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) published additional guidance regarding the June 21, 2019 amendment to OFAC’s Reporting, Procedures, and Penalties Regulations (“RPPR”).  That guidance caused a stir among manufacturing company compliance personnel and others because it appeared to imply that unsolicited sales inquiries and other contacts from Iranian companies or government entities might require submission of a report to OFAC whether those inquiries were formally rejected or not.

OFAC clarifies that as of June 21, 2019, when the changes to the RPPR took effect, they expected all U.S. persons and persons otherwise subject to U.S. jurisdiction, including entities that are not U.S. financial institutions, to comply fully with all requirements of the RPPR, including the requirement to report rejected transactions within 10 business days of the rejected transaction. (Note: Prior to June 21, 2019, only U.S. financial institutions were required to submit reports to OFAC for rejected funds transfers). Rejection reports must be submitted to OFAC using their Report of Rejected Transaction Form.

The June 21, 2019 changes incorporated new requirements for parties filing reports on blocked property, unblocked property, or rejected transactions. The rule requires more information in blocked property reports in order to prevent multiple requests from OFAC for additional information. 
Continue Reading Do Manufacturers Have to Report All Iranian Sales Inquiries to OFAC or Only Those They Have Formally Rejected? 

Companies outside the U.S. contemplating purchases of U.S. business (and potential U.S. acquisition targets) are continuing to parse the Department of the Treasury’s two proposed regulations continuing implementation of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (“FIRRMA”).  The proposed rules change the Committee’s jurisdiction and certain procedures related to the national security reviews undertaken by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”).  These proposed regulations provide additional clarity regarding how CFIUS intends to implement the FIRRMA amendments.  When implemented, these regulations will formally expand CFIUS jurisdiction – but will also formalize current CFIUS practice in most respects.  Implementation is scheduled to occur on or before February 13, 2020.[1]

Jurisdiction over non-controlling investments

Traditionally, CFIUS exercised jurisdiction over investments that result in the “control” of a non-U.S. person over a U.S. business.  After FIRRMA implementation, CFIUS will have jurisdiction over certain investments that do not result in control by a non-U.S. person.  Specifically, CFIUS will have jurisdiction over non-controlling investments if the investment is in a specific company type, and if it affords the investor specific, enumerated rights.

The draft regulations identify several company types that satisfy the first part of the test.  The first type is a business that produces or otherwise deals in certain “critical technologies.”  A separate statute[2] authorizes the Department of Commerce to identify these critical technologies.  Although the Department of Commerce did identify examples of these technologies in a 2018 rulemaking, that process is not yet complete.
Continue Reading CFIUS to Cover More Foreign Investments in U.S. Companies