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

2022 is shaping up to be a critical year for the Biden Administration regarding U.S. international trade policy.  In 2021, the Biden Administration made headway in resolving some of the challenges with United States’ allies that arose during the last Administration, and trying to build bridges in important regions that had perhaps had been neglected.  But in a number of other critical areas, and arguably in the most significant areas, the Biden Administration made little tangible progress over the past year.  The discussion below offers a look back at the key developments in 2021 with respect to U.S. trade relations with the EU, China, the rest of Asia and North America, and a look ahead at what could come in 2022.
Continue Reading The US International Trade Agenda: A Look Back, A Look Ahead

On 17 November 2021, in the wake of the Glasgow Climate Change Conference (COP26), the European Commission (“Commission”) presented its Proposal for a Regulation that aims to curb deforestation and forest degradation driven by European Union (“EU”) consumption and production (“Proposed Regulation”). The wider goal of the rule is to reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and global diversity loss, by minimising the consumption of products from supply chains associated with deforestation or forest degradation.

Already announced in 2019, the Proposed Regulation fits in the wider context of the European Green Deal, the Commission’s flagship initiative to transform the EU from a high- to a low-carbon economy. It follows similar initiatives in the United States (“U.S.”) and United Kingdom (“UK”), as discussed in more detail here.

The Proposed Regulation complements and expands on existing EU legislation, such as the EU Timber Regulation (“EUTR”) and the Forest law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Regulation (“FLEGT Regulation”), and would be complementary to the Commission’s legislative initiative on Sustainable Corporate Governance (“SCG”). Of note, it would integrate and improve the framework created by the EUTR, which would be repealed by the adoption of the Proposed Regulation.Continue Reading The European Commission’s Proposed Ban on Products Driving Deforestation and Forest Degradation

On October 6, 2021, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the Fostering Overseas Rule of Law and Environmentally Sound Trade (“FOREST”) Act of 2021 to “deter commodity-driven illegal deforestation around the world.”

The FOREST Act aims to disincentive illegal deforestation by restricting certain commodities and derivative products originating from illegally deforested lands from accessing the U.S. market.  If the FOREST Act is passed by Congress, foreign producers of “covered commodities,” such as: palm oil, soy, cocoa, cattle, rubber, and wood pulp, as well as foreign companies that produce products that are wholly or partially derived from these commodities will be affected by the new legislation.

A similar deforestation proposal has been introduced in the United Kingdom, and another is expected to be published by the European Commission under a proposed Regulation on November17, 2021.  As some of the largest consumers of agricultural commodities, the introduction of deforestation legislation in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union could be the start of a larger global effort to address one of the most environmentally harmful practices using trade measures.  Depending on their terms and how they are implemented, the FOREST Act and its counterparts in the EU and UK could have negative implications for foreign producers and primary exporting countries of the commodities, if passed into law in any of these three jurisdictions.Continue Reading Potential Implications of the FOREST Act of 2021 and Related Developments in Other Jurisdictions