Four Tools of Modern Economic Statecraft

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The Impact of Modern Economic Statecraft on Cross-Border Trade and Investment: Sanctions, Export Controls, Investment Screening, and Supply Chain Rules

 ● PLI Chronicle: Insights and Perspectives for the Legal Community, March 10, 2023 ●

Anthony Rapa ●

Geopolitical risk is top of mind for companies these days, and it seems that every week brings a new proposed sanction, trade control, or investment restriction. Increasingly, companies and investors are discovering that their cross-border movement of goods, technology, and capital implicates regulatory restrictions of some kind and is subject to governmental scrutiny.

In modern parlance, such measures fall under the rubric of “economic statecraft.” The pace of change is dizzying, and the stakes are high, with each new economic statecraft tool holding the power to cut off business with targeted markets, trigger regulatory scrutiny of transactions, and impact business planning.

Economic statecraft is not new. The earliest recorded example dates back to the 5th century BC, when the Athenian Empire banned the people of Megara, a town allied with Sparta, from trading in harbors and marketplaces controlled by the empire. Another notable example is Napoleon’s Continental System, in which the French emperor sought to prohibit trade between the European continent and Great Britain. A further historical instance, with modern-day implications, is the U.S. embargo of Cuba, which dates back to the early 1960s.

While economic statecraft is not new, what is new is the power of the U.S. government and, increasingly, other governments, to respond swiftly to geopolitical events with economic countermeasures. In the modern landscape, such measures are often multilateral and reinforced through governmental bodies and market gatekeepers such as financial institutions.

Given the prevalence of economic statecraft tools and the geopolitical trends prompting their promulgation, it is important for economic operators engaged in cross-border trade and investment, and those advising them, to understand the nature and scope of the tools at governments’ disposal.

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Corporate Counsel: Five Geopolitical and International Trade Issues for U.S. Businesses to Watch in 2023

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Corporate Counsel, February 14, 2023

Anthony Rapa and Justin A. Chiarodo ●

Last year marked an inflection point in the geopolitics of the 21st century, with the Biden administration declaring the post-Cold War era “definitively over” against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the U.S.-China strategic competition. That dynamic drove a range of national security and economic statecraft policies in 2022—notably including broad sanctions against Russia and semiconductor export controls regarding China—that will create heightened legal and business risks for companies with international supply and distribution chains. These risks will be particularly acute for companies and investors operating in highly regulated industries, including aerospace, defense, manufacturing, technology, and financial services. We highlight below five key geopolitical and international trade issues to watch in 2023.

1. Trade war becomes tech war.

The U.S. strategic competition with China will continue in 2023 and beyond, with a continued focus on limiting the flow of advanced and emerging technologies. U.S. authorities are expected to build on key China-related measures implemented in 2022, which included sweeping semiconductor export controls, designations of Chinese companies on restricted lists, and FCC equipment bans.

Perhaps counterintuitively, total U.S.-China trade in 2022 reportedly was at or around an all-time high, and the Biden administration has stated that “[w]e do not seek conflict or a new Cold War.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned visit to China in 2023, postponed after the U.S. shot down a Chinese high-altitude balloon drifting through U.S. airspace, had been intended to build on dialogue between President Biden and Chinese president Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia last November.

Key takeaway: Expect stronger enforcement measures to weigh on China trade for the foreseeable future. Companies should revisit the risk profile of their international supply chains—including whether any of their technology is subject to the new export controls or could be the subject of future controls—and consider enhancements in their supplier diligence and risk management practices.

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New CFIUS Enforcement Guidelines: Executive Briefing

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Anthony Rapa ●

On October 20, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”), in its role as chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”), issued the first-ever CFIUS Enforcement and Penalty Guidelines (the “Guidelines”). The Guidelines apprise the public of CFIUS’s intention to penalize violations of the CFIUS regulations, emphasize the importance of voluntary self-disclosures of violations, and provide a basic overview of the penalty process.

As a threshold matter, it is important to clarify what constitutes a “violation” in the CFIUS context. The relevant regulations provide for CFIUS review of certain foreign investments in U.S. businesses and empower CFIUS to block or mitigate such investments on national security grounds. While CFIUS retains broad discretion to take such action in the context of transactions, “violations” punishable by monetary penalties only arise in specific circumstances.

Continue readingNew CFIUS Enforcement Guidelines: Executive Briefing

New York Law Journal: Recent Developments in U.S. Supply Chain Security

Preparing for Compliance Risks Under the ICTS Rules, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, and the National Critical Capabilities Defense Act

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New York Law Journal, September 22, 2022

Anthony Rapa and Justin A. Chiarodo ●

Supply chain security remains a key bipartisan policy goal and burgeoning compliance risk area. This article examines three recent initiatives that exemplify these trends: the regulations on securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services supply chain, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, and the proposed National Critical Capabilities Defense Act.

Companies with cross-border supply chains should assess their exposure under these emerging regimes and prioritize their compliance efforts accordingly. The risk profile is greatest for companies developing technology and software across borders; companies importing items produced in (or incorporating components produced in) the Xinjiang region of China; parties seeking to invest in certain critical capabilities outside the United States; and government contractors that may be exposed to foreign adversaries in their supply chains.

Information and Communications Technology and Services Rules

One pillar of the U.S. government’s developing architecture for supply chain security is the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (Commerce’s) regulations on Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services (ICTS) Supply Chain (ICTS Regulations), set out at 15 C.F.R. Part 7. Promulgated pursuant to Executive Order 13873, the rulemaking identifies the ICTS supply chain as critical to “nearly every aspect” of national security, acknowledging the degree to which American government, business, and the economy at large rely on ICTS. See Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain, 86 Fed. Reg. 4909 (Jan. 19, 2021).

The ICTS Regulations empower Commerce to review, prohibit, or restrict specified “ICTS Transactions” that present national security risks. The term “ICTS Transactions” is defined broadly to include: “any acquisition, importation, transfer, installation, dealing in, or use of any information and communications technology or service, including ongoing activities, such as managed services, data transmission, software updates, repairs, or the platforming or data hosting of applications for consumer download.”

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C4ISRNET: Congress May Tighten Scrutiny of U.S. Investment in Foreign Technologies

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C4ISRNET, September 1, 2022

Justin A. Chiarodo and Anthony Rapa ●

Building on recent national security initiatives to shore up the protection of U.S. critical assets from strategic adversaries (notably including China and Russia), Congress is considering new government powers to review outbound U.S. investments in certain high-technology sectors.

Inbound foreign investments in key sectors are reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). However, screening of outbound investments – a so-called “reverse CFIUS” – would be new, and could significantly impact industries ranging from aerospace and defense to fintech to pharmaceuticals.

How did we get here?

The last several years have witnessed an accelerated national security pivot from the twenty-year global war on terror to strategic competition with major state adversaries. Unclassified assessments of the U.S. national security posture reveal significant threats in domains ranging from artificial intelligence to hypersonic weapons to energy, many of which have been exacerbated by the theft of U.S. technology. The legislation proposing a “reverse CFIUS” review would seek to counter these threats by adding new controls to the flow of U.S. capital and intellectual property abroad.

The contemplated regime formally originated with the proposed National Critical Capabilities Defense Act (NCCDA), which passed the House of Representatives in February 2022 as part of the America COMPETES Act of 2022, H.R. 4521, a larger package focused on U.S. domestic semiconductor production and other aspects of U.S. competitiveness (certain elements of which, not including the NCCDA, eventually were signed into law as part of the CHIPS and Science Act in August 2022). Most notably, the NCCDA would create a Committee on National Critical Capabilities (the “Committee”), with authority to review – and block – covered outbound foreign investments.

You can read more on our website.

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