On 23 October 2023, the Council of the European Union adopted a regulation known as the Anti-Coercion Instrument (ACI), a new trade instrument which will enable the European Union (EU) and its Member States to respond to so-called ‘economic blackmail’ from foreign countries that seek to influence or coerce the EU or a particular Member State to adopt or to decline a specific policy.  The European Parliament had already approved the regulation earlier this month by a margin of 578 votes to 24 and only 19 abstentions.

The ACI breaks new ground in the EU’s arsenal of trade defences in the midst of escalating geopolitical tensions.  It is designed to deter perceived economic coercion primarily through diplomacy and, if necessary, with countermeasures in a wide range of fields, including international trade, investment, and funding.  It is also aimed to secure ‘reparation’ for the injury caused by a third country’s conduct.  The ACI is expected to enter into force before the end of 2023 and will take the form of a regulation binding in its entirety and directly applicable to all Member States.Continue Reading European Parliament and Council Adopt New Trade Instrument to Defend European Interests from Economic Coercion

On 1 March 2023, the EU’s General Court delivered its judgment in Case T‑540/20, Jushi Egypt for Fiberglass Industry v Commission, ruling that the EU’s anti-subsidy Regulation does not preclude the countervailing of subsidies that are granted by a foreign state to companies in a third country, which can be attributed to the government of the country of origin or export of the products concerned. The Court’s ruling confirmed the Commission’s interpretation in Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/870, which imposed a definitive countervailing duty on imports of continuous filament glass fibre products (‘GFR’) originating in Egypt.Continue Reading EU Court recognizes transnational subsidies are countervailable

On 14 December 2022, the Council of the EU (“Council”) and the European Parliament (“Parliament”) adopted Regulation (EU) 2022/2560 of the European Parliament and of the Council on foreign subsidies distorting the internal market (the “Foreign Subsidies Regulation” or “FSR”), which was published in the EU’s Official Journal on 23 December 2022. The FSR gives the European Commission (“Commission”) substantial new powers to investigate “financial contributions” granted by non-EU governments to companies operating in the EU and, where necessary, take measures to redress their distortive effects. Specifically, the Commission will be able to conduct such investigations through three new tools: two notification-based tools to investigate concentrations and bids in public procurements above certain thresholds and a general tool to investigate all other market situations and lower-value mergers and public procurement procedures.Continue Reading The EU’s Foreign Subsidies Regulation Gets Adopted

The United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom are increasingly using trade policy tools as a means to promote certain sustainability goals related to human rights and the environment.  For instance, Steptoe covered in a previous post the trade restrictions proposed at the end of 2021 aimed at illegally deforested products.  More recently, amidst increasing concerns regarding forced labor in certain regions, the EU has proposed legislation which would ban making available within the EU, and exporting from the EU, products made with forced labor – resembling, to some extent, the forced labor ban that is in place in the US. Meanwhile, the UK has adopted a more piecemeal and geographically targeted approach through the adaptation of existing legislation focused on export controls and the prevention of modern slavery.Continue Reading Measures Banning Products Made with Forced Labor: US, EU and UK Approach

On September 19, 2022, the European Commission (“Commission”) presented the Single Market Emergency Instrument (“SMEI”), a crisis management framework designed to secure supply chains of “identified, strategically important goods and services” within the European Union (“EU”) during times of emergency.  The SMEI was introduced as a response to the significant structural issues in the EU’s supply chain of critical goods and services, which were highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Comments on the Proposed Regulation are currently due on December 17, 2022.Continue Reading The EU Single Market Emergency Instrument: Comparing the SMEI Against the U.S. Defense Production Act  

The much anticipated proposal for a Regulation prohibiting products made with forced labor on the EU market was published by the European Commission (“Commission”) on 14 September 2022, one year after the initiative was first announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her 2021 State of the Union speech. The proposed forced labor instrument has the potential to significantly impact the supply chains of not only EU companies, but also of any non-EU company that sells products into the EU. The instrument would apply to any company that exports products from the EU or that sells products on the EU market, irrespective of where those companies are based, to which products they are selling, and to which countries and suppliers they source from.
Continue Reading The Proposed EU Ban on Goods Made With Forced Labor

On 29 August 2022, the European Union’s (“EU”) International Procurement Instrument (“IPI”)[1] will enter into force. The IPI was adopted on 23 June 2022 after more than a decade of legislative preparations and discussions. It provides for a new trade policy tool which is designed to address the perceived lack of a level playing field in global procurement markets.

The IPI will enable the European Commission (“Commission”) to impose measures limiting non-EU companies’ access to the EU public procurement market if these companies’ governments do not offer similar access to EU businesses. Specifically, the IPI envisages two types of measures that can be applied: i) a “score adjustment” penalty on tenders submitted by suppliers from the targeted third country; or ii) the exclusion of such tenders from the procurement process. Such IPI measures would be applied following an investigation by the Commission, and after consultations with the country concerned.
Continue Reading EU’s International Procurement Instrument to Enter into Force at the End of August

It is generally known that EU anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures are usually imposed for a period of five years, and that they can be (and usually are) extended for further five-year periods further to expiry review investigations. Similarly, operators facing trade defense measures will typically be aware that the repeal or the reduction of the duties can be obtained with interim review investigations or duty refund procedures. It is instead far less known that there is another, temporary, and, until very recently, long unexploited solution available to EU importers and end-users to ease the pressure of EU trade defense measures, namely the suspension thereof. This tool can be particularly relevant to EU importers and end-users of goods that are currently suffering from supply chain disruptions.
Continue Reading Duty Suspension: An Interim Relief from EU Trade Defense Measures

In 2021, the United Kingdom (UK) exited the EU’s legal regime to become an independent entity for trade purposes – given this, the year witnessed the operation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) which governs the relationship between the UK and the European Union (EU), the negotiation of at least two other free trade agreements (FTAs) ( the UK-Australia FTA and the UK-New Zealand FTA), an application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) along with the establishment of the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) and the issuance of its first decisions.  The present note summarises these key developments (and more) in UK trade over the past year.
Continue Reading UK Trade: A Summary of Developments in 2021

In the last quarter of 2021, the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom introduced or adopted measures aimed at eliminating illegal deforestation throughout the world.  All three measures recognize the harmful effects of deforestation with regard to climate change and seek to address such effects by prohibiting certain commodities produced on (illegally) deforested land from being placed on their respective markets.  However, there are significant differences among the measures that warrant closer examination as they could have market access implications for companies.

This article sets out the key similarities and differences across the US, EU, and UK anti-deforestation measures, building on Steptoe’s previous posts on the proposed Fostering Overseas Rule of Law and Environmentally Sound Trade Act of 2021 (“FOREST Act”) in the United States, the European Union’s Proposal for a Regulation on Deforestation-free Products (“Proposed Regulation”), and the United Kingdom’s Environment Act 2021 (“Environment Act”).  A more comprehensive analysis of each measure can be found here: US, EU, UK.Continue Reading Comparing Recent Deforestation Measures of the United States, European Union, and United Kingdom