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