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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

  • NRC Investigations Prove Useful Zachary Feldman writes: Copyright: Yulia Glam / 123RF Stock Photo What Is the NRC and Who Does It Regulate? For those corporations that create, sell, and distribute goods with traces of radioactive materials, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is the governing agency. Smoke detectors, clocks, fertilizer, lanterns, and even glass can be subject to regulation depending on the chemical composition of the items. Congress created the NRC as an independent agency in 1974 to ensure the safe use of radioactive materials for... More
  • Indictments Against Shipping Executives Demonstrate DOJ’s Commitment to Individual Accountability Almost one year ago, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Norwegian Shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS (WWL) had agreed to pay a $98.9 million fine for its role in a conspiracy to control prices for roll-on, roll-off cargo (such as cars, trucks, and agricultural equipment) shipped to and from the United States.  At the time, the DOJ acknowledged that, in addition to the fine, WWL was cooperating in ongoing investigations and affirmed the Department’s commitment to holding “companies and... More
  • Complex FCPA Plea Agreement Gives Federal Court Pause Copyright: ginasanders / 123RF Stock Photo On June 16, 2016, Teva Pharmaceutical’s Russian subsidiary (Teva LLC) pled guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  Judge Kathleen M. Williams of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida hesitated, however, in entering a final judgment under which Teva LLC would pay no fine.  While there is no doubt that Teva LLC’s parent entity will pay over a half-billion dollars for violations of the... More
  • Senate Votes in Favor of Russia Sanctions On Thursday, the Senate passed legislation to impose additional sanctions on Russia. The bill passed by an overwhelming majority, 98-2, with only Senator Rand Paul and Senator Bernie Sanders voting against it. In addition to the Russian sanctions, Iran sanctions, and the requirement that Congress review any effort by the Trump administration to loosen sanctions against Russia, the bill also includes a reassertion of the United States’ commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Article 5 charter provision that states that... More
  • NAFTA Renegotiation – Public Comment Deadline Extended Copyright: antartis / 123RF Stock Photo Public comment on NAFTA renegotiations has been extended until midnight tonight ET, according to an Alert by Nevena Simidjiyska published on June 13: The process of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada officially began on May 18 when the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) notified Congress, triggering a 90-day period during which the administration will consult with Congress before NAFTA negotiations can begin. The USTR requested public comments on its... More
  • Imposing New Russian Sanctions   Copyright: alexkich / 123RF Stock Photo On Monday, U.S. senators reached an agreement regarding imposing new sanctions against Russia. The agreement will be filed as an amendment to a larger Iran sanctions bill that is nearing passage in the Senate. The sanctions are meant to punish Russia for several Russian actions. The sanctions will punish Russia for the alleged meddling in the U.S. 2016 presidential election, its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, and its support of, and supplying weapons to, the government... More
  • Internet Powerhouses Make Priorities Known to U.S. Trade Representative In a letter dated May 16, 2017, the Internet Association, a trade group representing some of the largest internet companies in the country (and the world), pressed newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to see their perspective on trade policies in the digital age. Among the companies that the Internet Association represents are established giants such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook as well as those pushing the newest frontiers of Internet commerce, including Uber, Airbnb, and Dropbox.  This distinguished group... More
  • Sanctions Penalty Reviewed by the D.C. Circuit Reversing $4M Penalty Last week, the D.C. Circuit affirmed the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (“OFAC”) wide latitude to impose Iran sanctions, but it set aside a $4.07 million penalty against car accessory seller Epsilon Electronics (“Epsilon”). The D.C. Circuit found that the agency cut too many corners in its investigation of Epsilon. In July 2014, OFAC imposed the $4.07 million penalty on Epsilon, alleging that a series of shipments in 2012 by the company to Asra International Corporation, LLC in... More
  • Senate Confirms New US Trade Representative The Senate confirmed Robert Lighthizer as the US Trade Representative (USTR) on Thursday. The USTR is a Cabinet position, and thus Lighthizer will now serve as President Trump’s top trade negotiator. The Senate confirmed Lighthizer with support from both Republicans and Democrats. The 82-14 vote followed months of delays prior to his confirmation. In order to serve as USTR, Congress had to first pass a waiver to confirm him. Section 141 of the Trade Act of 1974 bars anyone who has “directly... More
  • Duracell Takes On Gray Market Goods In a recently filed complaint, battery giant Duracell brought Lanham Act claims against wholesaler JRS Ventures, Inc. (JRS) for importing and reselling batteries bearing the Duracell’s iconic “copper top” mark.  The wrinkle, as is the case in all “gray market goods” (or “parallel import”) cases is that the batteries are genuine Duracell batteries, produced with Duracell’s authorization in China.  Duracell, however, intended to sell the batteries to electronics manufacturers to be included with remote controls and other devices that come... More