NAFTA Renegotiations Update

By Patrick Togni

To many readers of this page, December thoughts regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) might commonly arise in the context of preparing annual NAFTA certificates of origin.  Origin documentation and other aspects of NAFTA compliance have become commonplace as the realities of a North American trading region have taken root and affected the way that companies source and manufacture their goods over the past quarter century.

NAFTA’s place in the U.S. economy became a key focus during the 2016 presidential election.  Following the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump, the Trump Administration initially pivoted from positions taken during the campaign to terminate NAFTA to renegotiation with Canada and Mexico.  For much of 2017, this process has played out in hotel conference rooms from Mexico City to Ottawa and Washington, D.C.  Negotiating teams from Mexico, Canada, and United States (comprised of more than 30 different topical groups) have held five rounds of talks regarding the renegotiation and modernization of NAFTA.

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

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

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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