The European Union has rejected the US claim that the recently issued Section 232 national security investigation reports on steel and aluminium measures are necessary or even intended to address a national security concern. The European Union has announced three actions in response to the measures, including a World Trade Organisation dispute settlement action.
The European Union recently issued Regulation 2321/2017, amending the basic EU Anti-dumping Regulation (1036/2016). Among other things, Regulation 2321/2017 sets out new rules for the calculation of normal value in the case of significant distortions that affect cost and price and removes rules which previously allowed for normal value to be determined via an analogue country methodology for non-market economy World Trade Organisation members.
The European Court of Justice recently handed down its opinion regarding the European Union's competence to conclude its proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore. FTA proposals incorporating provisions on the protection of non-direct foreign investments or investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms should be treated as mixed agreements, requiring ratification from not only the European Union, but also each member state.
The European Union and Japan recently announced having reached an 'agreement in principle' on a future economic and partnership agreement. The final agreement is expected to boost EU-Japan trade by cutting red tape and scrapping duties. EU businesses importing from and exporting to Japan should prepare for the agreement's entry into force. This requires assessing the exact effect of the agreement on their operations and identifying potential opportunities and challenges.
The field of trade defence instruments (TDIs) is among the most active in international trade law and their use could further increase as a result of the current wave of protectionism. In the European Union, which frequently makes use of these instruments, TDIs are based on the global framework set out by World Trade Organisation (WTO) law and on a number of additional conditions adopted at EU level. However, the EU legal framework must comply with WTO law.
Following weeks of negotiations, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has published the agreed text of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is slated to replace the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement with what the parties have called "a 21st century, high-standard agreement". While the USMCA text has answered many questions, a number of issues will need to be fleshed out during the implementation phase.
The Dutch customs authorities have wide-ranging inspection powers and, once irregularities have been uncovered, parties with cargo interests may face severe delays and ensuing costs which could have been avoided had they had a better understanding of the relevant rules and regulations. Parties which violate the rules will be subject to legal enforcement proceedings and possible prosecution under criminal law in the event of the Public Prosecutor's Office's involvement.
In 2017 the United States agreed that it was time to modernise the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement pact, launching months of negotiations that recently ended. When it comes into force, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will strengthen national treatment protections for the covered financial services industry in the United States. This is set to take place throughout 2019, with the USMCA possibly coming into force in early 2020.
President Trump recently announced the United States' intention to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and re-impose secondary sanctions on Iran. The announcement was accompanied by wind-down periods during which non-US persons could wrap up transactions entered into prior to 8 May 2018. The final wind-down period recently expired and secondary sanctions were re-imposed on a broad swathe of Iranian persons and sectors of Iran's economy.
If the turbulence of 2018 caused business executives grief, 2019 is unlikely to provide much relief – particularly in light of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Further, Section 232 tariffs on many steel and aluminium imports are likely to continue throughout 2019, as will Section 301 tariffs on more than $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. Finally, the administration has announced its intent to start talks on new trade pacts with the European Union, the United Kingdom and Japan.
The United States and Mexico recently announced an agreement regarding key issues that have been the focus of trilateral discussions between the United States, Mexico and Canada for over one year. Although no text is yet available, the Office of the United States Trade Representative has released fact sheets addressing certain aspects of the preliminary agreement in principle.
The US State Department recently explained the waivers of the chemical and biological weapon sanctions against the Russian government, confirming that many exports – even of national security-controlled items – can still be exported to Russia. In short, unless the Trump administration imposes additional sanctions in three months' time, the effects on commercial business with Russia should be limited. However, these measures must still be implemented by the various government agencies.
There is much discussion about what kind of trade relationship the United Kingdom will have with the European Union following Brexit. Less often discussed is the trade relationship between the United Kingdom and the approximately 60 third countries with a preferential trade relationship with the European Union from which the United Kingdom, as an EU member state, currently benefits. Brexit will disrupt the United Kingdom's trade with these countries as well as with the European Union.