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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

  • 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
  • OFAC Sanctions 271 Syrian Individuals On Monday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) leveled one of the largest sanctions actions in OFAC’s history. OFAC sanctioned 271 employees of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (“SSRC”). According to OFAC, the SSRC is responsible for developing chemical weapons that were used against civilians by Syrian government forces earlier this month in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria. OFAC has stated that these 271 designated individuals are scientists who have expertise in chemistry and related scientific... More
  • OFAC Offers New Guidance On Getting Off SDN Blacklist On April 20, 2017 the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) offered new guidance for individuals and entities (and their counsel) who seek to have their names removed from OFAC’s list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN). The guidance comes in the form of updates to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Questions and sets forth the procedures for petitioning for removal from the SDN list.  The petition itself appears quite simple.  In fact, the only requirements are that it include: (1) the name... More
  • OFAC Updates the Specially Designated Nationals List Today the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) updated its Specially Designated Nationals List (“SDN List”). OFAC frequently updates the SDN List to add or remove names as necessary and appropriate. The SDN List is a list published by OFAC that includes the names of individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, targeted countries. It also lists individuals, groups, and entities, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers designated under programs that are not country-specific. OFAC... More
  • Are Siemens’ FCPA Compliance Efforts Public Information? In 2008, global technology giant Siemens Aktiengesellschaft (“Siemens”) pleaded guilty to violations of the books and records provision of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”).  Siemens paid approximately $450 million in fines for its alleged violations and another $350 million to settle a civil suit brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.  In addition, as part of the plea agreement, Siemens agreed to hire Monitor to evaluate and report on its FCPA compliance efforts to the US Department of... More
  • Shareholder Demands Company’s Files Related to FCPA Settlement Copyright: bedo / 123RF Stock Photo In a complaint recently filed in Delaware Chancery Court, a shareholder of General Cable Corp. (“General Cable”) has asked the Court to compel the release of documents related to General Cable’s $82 million settlement of claims under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). In January, General Cable, a Kentucky-based industrial cable manufacturer, agreed to the $82 million settlement with the US Department of Justice and the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The DOJ and SEC alleged... More
  • 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