On 5 January 2023, President Biden signed the Protecting American Intellectual Property Act into law. This law seeks to deter the theft of US intellectual property by non-US actors by threatening to impose economic sanctions on those engaged in trade secrets theft. This law adds to existing measures available under US law, such as criminal prosecution, civil lawsuits, and/or designation to a US restricted parties list such as the Entity List (maintained by the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security).
On 17 January 2023, the US Department of Justice issued a revised version of its Criminal Division Corporate Enforcement Policy (CEP). The CEP sets out the Criminal Division’s approach to resolving cases with corporations. In particular, it addresses how the Criminal Division will credit companies which voluntarily disclose criminal conduct and cooperate during the investigation and resolution of the matter.
On 9 December 2022, Treasury and the IRS published final regulations relating to the centralized partnership audit regime. These “2022 Partnership Audit Regulations” generally follow the framework in the proposed regulations on the topic issued on 24 November 2020. Most notably, the 2022 Partnership Audit Regulations provide further guidance and clarification on certain partnership-related items that may be excepted from the centralized partnership audit regime and alternative rules that may apply to such excepted items.
On 13 January 2023, Canada announced amendments to the Special Economic Measures (Haiti) Regulations in response to “acts of significant corruption that are fueling the crisis in the country”. These amendments list an additional two individuals and took effect on 12 January 2023.
On 23 December 2022, President Biden signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023. Section 5949 of the FY2023 NDAA would prohibit executive agencies from procuring or contracting with entities to obtain any electronic parts, products, or services that include covered semiconductor products or services from certain Chinese companies. The semiconductor prohibitions will not take effect until five years after the date of enactment, and the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council will issue regulations implementing the prohibitions no later than three years from the enactment date.
On 17 January 2023, the US Department of Justice (DOJ or the “Department”) issued a revised version of its Corporate Enforcement Policy (CEP). The CEP sets out the Department’s approach to resolving criminal cases with corporations. In particular, it addresses how the Department will credit companies which voluntarily disclose criminal conduct and cooperate with the Department’s investigation and resolution of the matter. The latest revisions to the CEP are an evolution of existing Department policy and practice. They add additional nuance (and complexity) to the CEP, as well as potentially more significant benefits to companies considering how best to approach disclosure and engagement with the Department on criminal matters.
Just before the holidays, President Biden signed two bills passed in the final days of the last Congress that contain a number of provisions with implications for sanctions, export controls, and supply chain restrictions: the National Defense Authorization Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023.
Throughout 2022, there were substantial legislative developments under Canada’s unilateral sanctions regime. New sanctions regulations were implemented or amended in response to the war in Ukraine and in response to conflicts in Haiti, Iran and Myanmar. The framework and application of Canadian sanctions law also underwent changes, including the introduction of a new asset forfeiture regime. Additionally, for the first time, a Canadian court opined on the issue of “control” under the Special Economic Measures Act.
The strengthening partnership between the United States and Africa is having a positive impact on the myriad of trade and investment opportunities created by the African Continental Free Trade Area. At the recent US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington, DC in December 2022, a number of exciting initiatives and investments were announced by the US to boost two-way trade and investment between the two regions.
In May 2022, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) was launched between Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the US and Vietnam. On account of its specified focus on labor standards and issues, IPEF is likely to have an ongoing impact on labor regulations and trends among partner countries, including Vietnam.