Category: International Law & Practice

Smart Contracts: What Are They and What Do They Mean for International Trade?

By Sammy Naji

Of all the blockchain-based innovations, smart contracts running off blockchain may be the most transformative for international trade.  Smart contracts will go beyond eliminating the reliance on physical paper in international transactions by potentially removing the need for financial intermediaries altogether.  Smart contracts can be described as self-executing contracts that run off code, which initiate performance and automatically impose penalties when predefined conditions are met.[1]  They essentially serve as automated escrow robots.[2]

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KORUS Renegotiation Update

By Patrick Togni

North Carolina maintains deep economic ties with the Republic of Korea. In fact, the State of North Carolina maintains a trade-facilitation office in Seoul that is designed “to support export activity” and “to facilitate foreign direct investment into North Carolina.” This article provides you with a primer on recent developments regarding the renegotiation of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer formally notified Korea in July that the U.S. requested a special Joint Committee meeting under KORUS to start the process of negotiating to remove barriers to U.S. trade and consider amendments to the agreement. USTR’s action was consistent with the Trump Administration’s stated objective of reducing the trade deficit. KORUS entered into force in March 2002 and, from 2011 to 2016, the U.S. trade deficit in goods with Korea more than doubled from $13.2 billion to $27.6 billion.

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Scam Targeting Employers for Copies of I-9s

Employers have been receiving scam emails from news@uscis.gov, a nonexistent email address made to appear as if it is from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), asking employers to send copies of their I-9s. USCIS would never request  I-9s in this manner; therefore employers should not respond. If your client has received such an email, they can report either it to https://lnkd.in/euiJdVb or uscis.webmaster@uscis.dhs.gov.

Jennifer Parser

Blockchain Technology: Its Impact on Bill of Lading and Trade Finance Systems

Editor’s Note: The below article is the second in a three-part series about blockchain and its implications on international trade. Read the first article here.

By Sammy Naji

Applying blockchain technology to international trade allows stake holders to take advantage of a a much more efficient and transparent technological infrastructure than the current outmoded paper-based system. Prior to blockchain’s emergence, digitizing negotiable trade documents, without creating the potential for fraud, could only be accomplished through expensive and closed members-only systems.[1]  With blockchain, however, an accurate record of possession and title can be maintained without the need for paper processing or a centralized intermediary.

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Blockchain Technology: Its Implications for International Trade

Editor’s Note: The below article is the first in a three-part series about blockchain and its implications on international trade.

By Sammy Naji

International trade is undergoing a tremendous transformation thanks to the emergence of a groundbreaking technology called blockchain. Blockchain is essentially a ledger that is distributed on a network of independent computers, which allows for unalterable records of asset ownership. The ledger’s immutability comes from the fact that any attempt to alter a ledger stored on one computer in the network would be exposed by the ledgers stored on the rest of the computers in the network. Thus, blockchain technology provides international trade a more a reliable alternative to the current paper based systems of trade while simultaneously reducing the fraud, shipment time, and costs.

Blockchain gained its prominence as the technological infrastructure for virtual currencies such as bitcoin.[1] Since blockchain can keep accurate records of asset ownership and ensure that asset transfers stem from their legitimate owners, blockchain technology has solved the problem that previously plagued past attempts to establish reliable virtual currencies: the potential for fraud.[2]

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#NCBA In Japan: Attorneys Exchange Ideas, Soak In Culture

As the NCBA’s Attorney Exchange Program delegation wraps up its trip to Japan this week, we’re sharing the group’s impressions of the Land of the Rising Sun. Throughout the trip, members of the delegation have been offering their favorite moments via our social media channels. To see photos, go to the NCBA Facebook page  or follow the group on Twitter at #NCBAinJapan.

Also, we talked via Skype with David Robinson, International Law & Practice Section member and Honorary Consul of Japan in North Carolina. Well-versed in Japanese culture, Robinson helped organize the trip and the group’s meetings with law firms, government officials, businesses and bar organizations. Here’s a 90-second video with photos and excerpts of the interview.

Follow the NCBA Attorney Exchange Program In Japan On Social Media

Check out the NCBA social media channels for updates from the ongoing attorney exchange to Japan led by the International Law & Practice Section. The delegation landed in Tokyo earlier this week and has a packed schedule of meetings with law firms, government officials, businesses and bar organizations. In between, they’re taking in all the Japanese culture, food and landmarks they can get.

Plus, delegates will be writing and sharing daily haikus with us. To see photos of the trip so far click here. Follow them on Twitter at #NCBAinJapan.

DACA Program to End: Here’s What You Should Know

By Jennifer Cory

On Sept. 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced rescission of the Obama administration’s 2012 Executive Order which created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As of March 5, 2018, DACA will terminate. DACA has benefited approximately 800,000 recipients who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 and hold no valid immigration status by granting them temporary work authorization and relief from deportation.

Following the announcement, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) halted acceptance of new DACA applications.  Current DACA recipients with permits that expire before March 5, 2018 may apply for renewal by Oct. 5, 2017.  As a result, some DACA recipients could lose work authorization as early as March 6, 2018, while others will be able to continue to use the program over the next two years. In addition, USCIS is no longer approving Advance Parole authorizing travel for DACA recipients.  Whether those with existing Advance Parole will be permitted to return to the U.S. once DACA ends is uncertain. Having Advance Parole does not guarantee admission to the U.S., and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may revoke or terminate it at any time.

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Employers: Those Form I-9s Can Cost You If You’re Not Staying On Top of Them

By Jennifer Parser

It is a good time to conduct an internal audit of I-9s because inspections and fines have not gone away and a new I-9 edition was published recently. An administrative law judge in the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Office fined a staffing company $276,000 in June 2017, reduced from the $367,000 originally imposed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). While this is less than the highest fine of $605,250 imposed in 2015 on an events planning company for incomplete I-9s (there were only four missing I-9’s out of 339 employees), the reason for the staffing company’s fine was a failure to produce the I-9s to ICE within the three days of its request. So, Rule No. 1 taken from this latest large ICE fine: Have complete I-9s ready and available for inspection at all times.

Second, use the latest Form I-9. A new I-9 Form went into effect on July 17, 2017. The Jan. 1, 2107 version can be used until Sept. 17, 2017. After that, employers must only use the July 17, 2017 iteration. Rule No. 2: Never rely upon pre-printed I-9 forms. Always go to the website and download the latest version.

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Want To Publish Your Article On the International Law & Practice Section Blog? Here’s What You Need To Know

Topics: We encourage relevant, timely articles on substantive cross-border legal issues and any others that may be of interest to the international legal community in North Carolina.

Length:  All articles are limited to 300-400 words. For articles exceeding this world limit, the author may:  1) edit the article into one article of 300-400 words, 2) serialize the article into two or more articles, or 3) include an abstract of the article as the blog post with author contact information for the reader.  The International Law & Practice Section Blog Committee and the NCBA reserve the right to make final edits to the article before publication.

Process:  If you believe that your proposed article meets the topic and length requirements set out above, please submit it to NCBAInternationalLawBlog@gmail.com with “NCBA International Law & Practice Section Article Submission” in the subject line.  A committee member will get back to you shortly with a publication decision and proposed publication date(s).

Thank you for your interest in publishing with us.  We look forward to working with you!

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