Archive for the ‘BIS’ Category


Dec

7

BIS, For One, Does Not Welcome Our New Robot Overlords


Posted by at 6:28 pm on December 7, 2017
Category: BISCivil PenaltiesEntity List

Pilot Truck via http://www.pilotdelivers.com/images/photo-library/PFS011-web.jpg [Fair Use]The Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) recently announced that Pilot Air Freight had agreed to a $175,000 fine ($75,000 of which was suspended) to settle charges that it had aided and abetted an attempted unlicensed export by one of its customers (against whom there is no record of any enforcement action) to IKAN Engineering Services, a company on the BIS Entity List. This seems rather high for what was essentially a software glitch.

According to the charging documents, Pilot had multiple interfaces for entering shipping data.  Its main interface, called “Navigator,” was linked to proprietary screening software that would screen shipment recipients against the Entity List and other relevant screening lists.   A second interface, called “Co-Pilot,” allowed customers to enter shipment data.   Apparently, entries made in “Co-Pilot” weren’t linked back to the Navigator screening software, so when a customer entered a shipment to IKAN, the shipment was not flagged.   It was apparently intercepted by Customs when it reached the Port of Long Beach.

There is nothing in the charging documents to suggest that Pilot knew of this glitch in its automated screening system.  It apparently thought that shipments were being screened.  This is unlike those cases where the exporter did not know of its obligation to screen shipments or knew of its obligation but decided not to screen certain shipments.   Certainly BIS has every right to penalize Pilot here, but the penalty should have taken into account what appear to have been the innocent and unintentional origins of the problem.   Almost everyone uses automated screening and would now appear to be at the mercy of the robots they employ to do the screening and the techies they hire to program the robots.

There’s another interesting wrinkle in the charging documents that BIS more or less glosses over.

Pilot failed to flag this transaction even though the name and address in its possession closely matched the Entity List listing for IKAN.   As Pilot has acknowledged to BIS during this matter, properly configured screening software would have identified the attempted export as involving a listed entity and flagged it for review.

Even though BIS acknowledges that this was not an exact match, we have no idea how inexact the match was.  Even though Pilot agreed that it was not so inexact that it would have been missed by its screening software , it is hard to tell whether they really believed that or felt compelled to say it to keep BIS happy.  The failure of BIS to reveal the name used by the shipper suggests that the match might not have been as close as BIS would now have us believe.

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Copyright © 2017 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
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Nov

17

Proposed CFIUS Legislation: Good News for Cattle Prod Makers, Bad News for Cows


Posted by at 3:09 pm on November 17, 2017
Category: BISCFIUSDDTC

Cow by Kabsik Park [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/5xQkWj [cropped]On November 8, 2017, the House and Senate introduced the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2017 (FIRRMA) proposing the first amendments to the CFIUS process since the Foreign Investment and National Security Act was passed in 2007. Although the bill has bi-partisan support and a good chance of passage, there are no guaranties on anything these days where Congress is concerned.

Of interest to export geeks is the proposed new definition of critical technologies to be considered by CFIUS during the review process. Section 3(a)(8) of the proposed legislation defines critical technologies to include:

(i) Defense articles or defense services included on the United States Munitions List set forth in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations under subchapter M of chapter I of title 22, Code of Federal Regulations.

(ii) Items included on the Commerce Control List set forth in Supplement No. 1 to part 774 of the Export Administration Regulations under subchapter C of chapter VII of title 15, Code of Federal Regulations, and controlled—

(I) pursuant to multilateral regimes, including for reasons relating to national security, chemical and biological weapons proliferation, nuclear nonproliferation, or missile technology; or

(II) for reasons relating to regional stability or surreptitious listening.

What that means is that items controlled solely for Crime Control or AT reasons won’t be critical technologies and that CFIUS will not get worked up if a Chinese company seeks to buy the Cowpoke Cattle Prod (ECCN 0A985) Company in Wyoming. Nor should it care much if a foreign purchaser makes a bid for Missouri-based Ferguson Sjamboks and Tonfas (ECCN 0A9678) R US, Inc.

It is, of course, unlikely that CFIUS would have, either before or after any potential passage of the proposed legislation, considered the fact that the target made cattle prods (or tonfas) even though it has routinely examined transactions where other export-controlled goods were involved. But the proposed legislation, if it becomes law, would provide a statutory basis for CFIUS to ignore issues arising from the U.S. business producing AT- or CC-controlled items.

Photo Credit: Cow by Kabsik Park [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/5xQkWj [cropped]. Copyright 2004 Kabsik Park

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Copyright © 2017 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
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Oct

12

Happy Sudan Day!


Posted by at 7:44 pm on October 12, 2017
Category: BISOFACSudan

Meroe (49) by joepyrek [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr https://https://flic.kr/p/dD4ue9 [cropped]Today, October 12, is the day on which Executive Order 13067, which repealed earlier executive orders imposing sanctions on Sudan, becomes effective. We got here by a somewhat circuitous route. Executive Order 13067, issued in the last days of the Obama administration, delayed its effective date until July 12, 2017, although OFAC issued a general license at the time the order was issued doing everything the order would do when it became more or less permanently effective on July 12, 2017. The Trump Administration extended that effective date until October 12, 2017. Since no further orders have been issued, the lifting of sanctions contemplated by the Obama executive order is now in effect, although practically nothing much has changed given that the general license issued with the Obama order, and found in section 538.540 of the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations (“SSR”), did everything the executive order itself does now that it has officially gone into effect.

Of course, when the Office of Foreign Assets Control is involved, there is always some confusion. In the FAQs issued on the revocation of the Sudan Sanctions, OFAC makes this odd statement: “OFAC expects to remove the SSR from the C.F.R.” When that will happen and why on earth it didn’t happen today is not addressed. So, technically, the rules prohibiting Sudan transactions remain on the books although fortunately so does the general license in section 538.540. Perhaps the new folks at OFAC don’t know the difference between the printed edition of the C.F.R., where removal has to wait to the next edition, and the electronic edition, where the SSR can be removed virtually immediately.

The lifting of the sanctions on Sudan, as a practical matter, means that all imports from Sudan are permitted and most EAR99 items can be exported to Sudan. Since Sudan remains a state sponsor of terrorism, section 7205 to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 requires a license for all exports of agricultural commodities, medicine and medical devices to Sudan. These are covered by the general license in 538.540 and the new General License A, both of which permit exports of these items pursuant to a written agreement during the one-year period from the signing of the agreement. The lifting of the sanctions has no effect on the export restrictions in the Export Administration Regulations which require licenses for exports of Sudan for most items with an ECCN other than EAR99 or items listed in Supplement 2 to Part 742 (which includes some EAR99 items). And the arms embargo on Sudan in section 126.1 of the ITAR continues to remain in effect.

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Sep

22

Export Control Reform Arrives (Soon?) For Small Arms


Posted by at 4:00 pm on September 22, 2017
Category: BISDDTCExport Reform

Gun Show by M&R Glasgow [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/EfXLa [cropped]Rumors have begun to circulate that export control reform is coming to USML Category I small arms despite thoughts that this might never happen. The reporters in this Reuters article, who clearly have little background in export policy and reform, have fallen on their fainting couches, clutched their pearls, and conjured up terrifying images of an out-of-control international arms bazaar that will result. This is, of course, silliness. Thousands of items have transitioned from the USML to the 600 series of the Commerce Control List without military items falling willy-nilly into the hands of foreigners.

There are two issues I think are worthy of comment without histrionics. The first relates to brokering issues. I have been a critic of DDTC’s brokering rules, not because of their concept, but mostly because of their implementation. The rules have been improved by restricting the registration and licensing requirements to brokers who are U.S. citizens or who are located in and acting from the United States. But I think that potentially removing small arms shipments from the restrictions of the brokering rules is not necessarily a good idea. Remember that the reason that these were passed in the first place was that U.S. persons were shipping small arms from foreign countries to regional disputes and rebellions outside the United States where those arms were used for genocide or otherwise against the foreign policy of the United States. The EAR has no controls on brokering and would not control export of foreign-manufactured arms (without U.S. content) to areas outside the United States by U.S. citizens or persons in the United States. The brokering issue is negligible when we talk about other transitioned items, like certain military aircraft parts. But the issue is front and center when it comes to small arms.

Another interesting effect of transitioning small arms to the CCL, and one that will be probably a beneficial one, relates to the issue of providing firearms training to foreign persons. As it stands, the definition of defense services in section 120.9 covers ” training … foreign persons … in the … maintenance, … operation, … or use of defense articles.” So a U.S. person could not show a foreign person how to clean a rifle but could provide a copy of the publicly available rifle manual with cleaning instructions to the foreign person. After transition of the rifle as a 600 series item to the EAR, since the information on how to clean the rifle is published, a U.S. person could show the foreign person how to clean the rifle rather than just provide a copy of the manual. This, of course, seems a much more sensible result.

Photo Credit: Gun Show by M&R Glasgow [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/EfXLa [cropped]. Copyright 2007 M&R Glasgow/span>

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Copyright © 2017 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
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Sep

11

Florida Imposes Its Own Embargo on Cuba


Posted by at 5:34 pm on September 11, 2017
Category: BISCuba SanctionsOFAC

Rick Scott Head Shot by Rick Scott [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/7Td7dc 2007 [cropped]Last week, before other things got in the way, Florida governor Rick Scott looked in the mirror and suddenly realized that he had been elected by the American voters to run the foreign policy of the United States. So, without further delay, Scott announced that Florida would cut off all state funding for any port that permitted traffic to Cuba. As a result, the ports in Everglades and Palm Beach cancelled memoranda of understanding that they were planning to sign with Cuban officials visiting the state.

Now, of course, we all understand that Governor Scott’s 8th grade civics class may not have covered some of the finer points of the U.S. Constitution, and we also understand that Cuba-bashing is a favorite sport for Florida politicians, but even a quick review of the Supreme’s Court’s decision in Crosby v. National Foreign Trade Council reveals the problems with the governor’s actions here. In Crosby, Massachusetts prohibited state agencies from buying goods from companies that did business with Burma. The Supreme Court held that the law was preempted by the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. In doing so, the Court noted that the Massachusetts law interfered with the ability of the federal government to conduct foreign policy with respect to Burma. Central to that holding was the court’s finding that the Massachusetts law penalized companies for engaging in trade with Burma that was expressly permitted by the federal sanctions against Burma

Here, Governor Scott’s threat extends to all trade with Cuba, even if that trade is permitted by a specific or general license. So, to take a timely example, it is legal, under section 515.591 of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and License Exception SCP of the Export Administration Regulations to export goods and services to Cuba to assist with rebuilding infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Irma. Yet, under the threatened action, if that relief is shipped through a Florida port, that port will be penalized by Florida. This does seem, shall we say, pretty ungrateful under the circumstances: Irma’s strength, and impact on Florida, was lessened by the time she spent wreaking havoc on the northern coast of Cuba. Florida ought to think of that before blocking aid to Cuba in rebuilding destroyed infrastructure.

Photo Credit: Rick Scott Head Shot by Rick Scott [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/7Td7dc 2007 [cropped]. Copyright 2007 Rick Scott

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Copyright © 2017 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
(No republication, syndication or use permitted without my consent.)