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Customs and Trade Law Weekly Snapshot

Here is a recap of the latest customs and international trade law news:

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OFAC Sanctions & Licensing

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

Background on U.S. Sanctions (as of May, 2021)

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) administers a number of different sanctions programs. The purpose of U.S. sanctions programs is to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives and protect national security. Currently, OFAC administers 35 sanctions programs. These sanctions programs vary widely – some are comprehensive while others are highly selective.

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USTR Announces Special 301 Review – Comments Due January 28

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

Special 301 Report

The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) conducts an annual evaluation known as the Special 301 review. In the review, USTR identifies countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property (“IP”) rights or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on IP protection. As a result of this review, trading partners that present the most significant concerns regarding IP rights are placed in one of three categories: 1) the Watch List, 2) the Priority Watch List, and 3) Priority Foreign Countries.

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U.S.-Cuba Trade under Trump vs. Biden

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

U.S.-Cuba Trade under Trump

Since the early 1960s, the U.S. maintained a policy of economic sanctions towards Cuba. The U.S. policy sought to isolate the Cuban government. In 2014, the Obama administration significantly changed U.S. trade and economic policies towards Cuba by restoring diplomatic relations, rescinding Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terror, and permitting increased trade between the two countries. This period was known as the Cuban Thaw.

However, under President Trump’s administration, the Obama administration’s efforts to normalize relations have been rolled back. In November 2017, the Trump administration restricted financial transactions with entities controlled by the Cuban government. Furthermore, many new entities have been added to the Cuba restricted list under the Trump administration. As of 2019, the Trump administration has more or less abandoned engagement with the Cuban government, and has opted instead to increase sanctions based on Cuba’s human rights violations and its support of the Venezuelan government under Nicolas Maduro.

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