On October 15, 2020, CFIUS will officially tie mandatory filings to U.S. export control regimes, including the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).  While that change may draw a clearer line of what constitutes a mandatory filing, it also pulls your CFIUS review into the complex (and somewhat nerdy) world of export regulations.
Continue Reading Lend Me Your EARs: CFIUS Makes Export Controls a Trigger for Mandatory Filings

Opening Salvos: The Proposed Tariffs

On June 26, 2020, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) published a notice that it is considering new tariffs on exports such as olives, coffee, beer, gin, and trucks coming into the United States from France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom.[1] The list of potential targets also includes various types of bread, pastries, cakes, and other baked products. That new list of goods may face duties of up to 100%, potentially doubling the price of certain goods. [2] The announcement caused European stocks to fall, particularly for shares of beverage companies, luxury goods companies, and truck makers.
Continue Reading A Trade War on Two Fronts: U.S. Considers More Tariffs on European Goods

On December 2, 2019, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that in response to a digital services tax law passed in France, it would be retaliating with stringent tariffs on luxury products coming from France. The potential tariffs could target up to $2.4 billion worth of French imports into the United States, with duties as high as 100%.[1]
Continue Reading Potential Impact of U.S.-France Trade Tension on U.S. Imports of French Products and Luxury Goods

Key Takeaways:

  • Technology Infrastructure and Data. CFIUS will focus its review on investments in critical Technology, critical Infrastructure, and sensitive personal Data (“TID Businesses”).
    • Critical technologies is defined to include certain items subject to export controls along with emerging and foundational technologies under the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.
    • CFIUS provides a very helpful list of critical infrastructure and functions to help assess whether any business is a TID Business. We reproduce most of this list at the end of this blog article. (Sneak preview: telecom, utilities, energy, and transportation dominate the list.)
    • The proposed regulations provide much-needed guidance on what constitutes sensitive personal data and also seek to limit the reach of the definition so it does not cast too wide a net over transactions in which CFIUS really should have no national security concern.
  • Exceptions for Certain Countries. Investors from certain countries may be excepted from CFIUS jurisdiction when making non-controlling investments.
  • New Set of Rules for Real Estate. In a companion piece, CFIUS proposed for the first time a detailed set of rules related to investments in real estate. We will cover this in a separate blog article to be published in the near future.
  • Expansion of Short-Form Declaration Use. The proposed rules provide parties the choice to use a short-form declaration for any transaction under CFIUS jurisdiction in lieu of a long-form notice.
  • Comments Due by October 17, 2019. Members of the public may submit comments on the proposed regulations any time between now and October 17, 2019. Final regulations must be adopted by CFIUS and become effective no later than February 13, 2020.


Continue Reading CFIUS Proposes Rules to Implement FIRRMA

Key Takeaways:

  • Emerging technology sectors will soon be subject to new export controls.
  • Affected sectors include biotech, computing, artificial intelligence, positioning and navigation, data analytics, additive manufacturing, robotics, brain-machine interface, advanced materials, and surveillance.
  • New export controls on these sectors will likely require companies to obtain a license to export products to China and other destinations, and impose restrictions on sharing information with foreign nationals.
  • These sectors will also be added the list of industries subject to enhanced foreign investment scrutiny by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
  • The U.S. government has invited comments on the criteria to be used to establish new controls. The deadline for comments is December 19, 2018.

Export controls and other regulations often lag a step or two behind the times. That trend has accelerated with the pace of technological advancement. As a result, for many years, technical know-how in many cutting-edge technical fields has not been subject to export controls. This has meant that many commercial technical innovations could be freely exported without significant restrictions. As long as they were not designed for a military application, and no encryption technology involved, many new ideas developed in the United States were simply unaccounted for in the U.S. Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

But the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is about to make up a lot of ground in a single, large leap.
Continue Reading The Little Regulation That Will Make a Big Change in How You Do Business: Department of Commerce to Establish New Export Controls on Emerging Technologies

  • On October 10, 2018, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States put into effect the first mandatory filing requirement ever imposed by CFIUS. The Department of Treasury’s summary of the Pilot Program is available here.
  • Effective November 10, 2018, CFIUS will require reviews of critical technology investments – including certain non-controlling investments – from any country.
  • A failure to file notice or a new short form declaration to CFIUS may result in a civil monetary penalty up to the value of the transaction.
  • The requirements will not apply to any transaction that is completed prior to November 10, 2018 or any transaction for which the material terms were established prior to October 11, 2018.

Background

On August 13, 2018, President Trump signed FIRRMA into law. FIRRMA is a transformational expansion of the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review certain transactions that previously eluded the Committee’s jurisdiction (discussed in our blog, here). Congress left many critical aspects of the FIRRMA framework to be addressed through regulations promulgated by the Department of Treasury. Although we do not expect final rules to be forthcoming until late 2019 or early 2020, Congress empowered the Department of Treasury to “test-drive” parts of FIRRMA through Pilot Programs. Those programs can be implemented simply, taking effect 30 days after publication of the program requirements in the Federal Register. The adoption and implementation of the Pilot Program for critical technologies represents the Department of Treasury’s first attempt to implement substantive parts of FIRRMA prior to issuing formal regulations.
Continue Reading FIRRMA Takes Form as CFIUS Enacts a New Pilot Program Targeting “Critical Technologies”

Imagine telling your company’s Board of Directors that the company will have to knowingly violate the law. Further, you might note, the American Law Institute’s Principles of Corporate Governance state that, with very limited exceptions, a director who knowingly causes the corporation to disobey the law violates his duty of care. The protections of the Business Judgement Rule may not be available to a board member who, charged with navigating the Scylla and Charybdis of a conflict of laws, steers right into the shoals of noncompliance.

Beginning August 6, that will be the situation facing the thousands of companies that are subject to U.S. sanctions on Iran and to EU regulations blocking those sanctions. While it appears to be a stark choice, some nuances to the regulations may make navigating the narrow straights of the conflict of laws a less Odyssean and more practically manageable.
Continue Reading Stuck in the Middle With You: EU Blocking Statutes, Iran Sanctions, and the Thousands of Businesses Caught In Between

All this past week, you have been hearing about FIRRMA, the new legislation that will increase the powers of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States that is expected to be signed into law in the coming weeks. As we predicted here and here on our Global Trade Law Blog, FIRRMA will authorize CFIUS to review non-controlling investments by foreign companies, to enhance restrictions on investment in certain “critical technology,” to target real estate deals in proximity to sensitive U.S. Government sites, and to require mandatory filings for certain investments by foreign government-owned entities.
Continue Reading Life in the Fast Lane: CFIUS-Free Investments, if You’re From the Right Country

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday, July 10, expanding and increasing the powers of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The bill is called the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA).

The 400-2 passage in the House shows an overwhelming bipartisan momentum behind FIRRMA and signals that the bill is likely to be on the President’s desk for signature as soon as the House and Senate reconcile their versions. The timing of the actions is not coincidental. It appears that the Trump Administration has decided to let Congress take the lead on increasing scrutiny of foreign investments.
Continue Reading Reform of Foreign Investment in the U.S.: France and Other Allied Countries Might be Exempt