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The laws and regulations governing international trade are especially complex and can be overwhelming for companies doing business across national borders. The rapidly expanding global marketplace, however, has made compliance more important than ever. Failure to heed these laws can have serious and lasting consequences as dire as criminal charges against the company and individual employees.

The International Trade Law Compass is a blog that offers a steady stream of updates on a broad range of international trade issues, including customs/import compliance, export controls and sanctions, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and cross-border contracts.

Recent Blog Posts

  • Is OFAC Looking for Ways to Expand Its Jurisdiction? In a recent enforcement action, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), took what appears to be an unprecedented step in finding that a Taiwanese shipping company had violated the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 560 (ITSR). Copyright: 1971yes / 123RF Stock Photo The alleged violation surrounds a ship-to-ship transfer of oil between a vessel owned by B Whale Corp. (BWC), a subsidiary of TMT Group (TMT), and a vessel owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co.,... More
  • Upcoming Senate Hearing for United States Trade Representative The U.S. Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on March 14th to consider the nomination of Robert Lighthizer, of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, to serve as the next U.S. Trade Representative. The U.S. Trade Representative is the head of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and is a Cabinet member who serves as the President’s principal trade advisor. Lighthizer, who has focused his career on trade litigation and policy, was a deputy trade representative... More
  • CIT Finds Thanksgiving Feast Is Not a ‘Ritual’ In a recent decision, the Court of International Trade shot down an importer’s argument that its Thanksgiving and Christmas-themed serve ware and dinnerware should be exempt from duties as instruments of “specific religious or cultural ritual celebrations.” Copyright: alexraths / 123RF Stock Photo Subheading 9817.95.01 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”) provides that no duty is to be assessed for: “[u]tilitarian articles of a kind used in the home in the performance of specific religious or cultural ritual... More
  • Entry into Force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement February 22, 2017 marked a major milestone for global trade.  The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) entered into force on February 22nd after the World Trade Organization (WTO) obtained the needed acceptance from two-thirds of its 164 members.  Rwanda, Oman, Chad and Jordan submitted their instruments of acceptance to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, which brought the total number of ratifications over the required threshold for the TFA to take effect.  This is the most significant multilateral deal that has been concluded... More
  • ITC Bars German Table Saws Which Infringe US Safety Patents The International Trade Commission (ITC) issued an order on January 27, 2017,  barring the import table saws produced by German tool manufacturer, Robert Bosch GmbH (“Bosch”). The ITC determined that the components of Bosch’s REAXX safety technology infringed the two patents held by US-based SawStop LLC (“SawStop”).  As described in a press release at the outset of the ITC’s investigation, both the saws produced by SawStop and by Bosch contain active injury mitigation technologies which are able to detect when... More
  • Sen. Sessions Says That He Will Enforce FCPA If Confirmed As US Attorney General In written responses released earlier this week, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama reaffirmed that he will enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the International Anti-Bribery Act of 1988 if he is confirmed as US Attorney General.  Sen. Sessions was responding to the questions of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and others, following Sen. Session’s nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Sen. Whitehouse’s question focused on a comment by President Trump during a 2012 interview in which President Trump referred to the FCPA as a... More
  • $3.5 Billion Fine Part of Guilty Plea in “Largest Foreign Bribery Case in History” Earlier today, the Department of Justice announced that construction conglomerate Odebrecht SA and its affiliate Braskem SA have pleaded guilty to their maintenance of an elaborate bribery scheme which paid out approximately $788 million in bribes to government officials around the world since 2001. To facilitate its massive bribery scheme, Odebrecht established its “Division of Structured Operations,” which federal prosecutors dubbed the “Department of Bribery.” The Division of Structured Operations operated on its own floor and used its own communication and computer networks.... More
  • Report Ranks Countries Prone to Bribery In a recently released report, TRACE International, an international anti-bribery business association, ranked 199 countries based on the risk of encountering bribery within the country’s public sector. Go to Interactive Map (credit: TRACE International) The TRACE Matrix’s rating are based on four core domains: business interactions with government, anti-bribery laws and enforcement, government transparency, and capacity for civil oversight.  As part of the part of the business interactions with government domain, the report examines the extent to which business must interact with... More
  • The United Nations Tightens Sanctions on North Korea The 15-member U.N. Security Council (the Council) imposed new sanctions on North Korea (also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or DPRK) on November 30, 2016 by unanimously approving a resolution imposing new sanctions — UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2321. The resolution is a clear response to North Korea carrying out its fifth and largest nuclear test so far in September 2016. The resolution tighten the sanctions adopted by the Council in March 2016 and is aimed at... More
  • The Future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership US President-elect Trump has promised to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal as soon as he takes office. Trump has promised to leave the TPP, which took the Obama administration seven years to negotiate, and instead “negotiate fair bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back on to American shores.” The TPP is an agreement between 12 nations reached in October, 2015. The TPP sets forth a comprehensive trade framework covering goods and services, cross-border investments, intellectual property, the... More