By: Aden Tedla
Abusive surveillance tactics are becoming the hallmark of modern authoritarian and corrupt regimes, wherein political opponents, journalists, and activists are often spied upon via telecommunications, email communications, and multiple other means. This type of conduct has in large part been facilitated by the growth of the multi-billion dollar surveillance technology industry, as private companies manufacture and sell spyware software to governments and law enforcement agencies. These products are often sold with the explicit condition that they only be used to combat terrorists and drug cartels; however, governments have been exposed by independent groups and news organizations as having used these tools to spy on human rights lawyers, political opponents, journalists, government critics, and international investigators. Countries in which this type of illegal surveillance has been alleged to occur include Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.
By: Jacob Shepherd
In October, 2018, the Trump administration announced that the United States-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement (“USMCA”) had been signed, and farmers throughout the US breathed a sigh of relief. When the Trump administration pulled out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), US farmers were impacted by new trade barriers that arose between the former bloc countries, with an estimated annual average of $63 billion dollars of agricultural exports to Canada, Mexico and China caught in limbo while a new deal was negotiated. USMCA is a return to the NAFTA status quo in most areas of agriculture, though it does promise improvements for producers of certain agricultural commodities – specifically, USMCA creates new access for US wheat and dairy producers to sell products into the Canadian market. Despite these gains, however, the USMCA negotiations represent a squandered opportunity to tackle the increasingly important issue of food safety in the fresh produce supply chain.
By: Alexa Busser
On February 25, 2019, the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”) issued an Advisory Opinion (Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965) that concluded that the United Kingdom’s (“UK”) decolonization of Mauritius in the mid-1960s and its continued administration of the Chagos Archipelago to this day contravene international law. The ICJ’s Advisory Opinion has potent legal implications for states that were, and continue to be, colonizing powers. However, perhaps more interesting from an international law perspective, are the jurisdictional question that the case presents and the ICJ’s willingness to weigh in, through a non-binding advisory opinion, on an issue that has the flavor of a bilateral dispute.
By: Alexander Bavis
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“TCJA”) marked the most dramatic revision to the U.S. tax code in decades. Several TCJA provisions affected the U.S.’s international tax rules. However, none were more innovative than the Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (“BEAT”). The BEAT combats base erosion and profit shifting (“BEPS”), strategies employed by multinational corporations (“MNCs”) that shift profit from high to low tax jurisdictions to minimize global tax liability. Countries have traditionally controlled BEPS by amending their tax rules to eliminate the availability of specific practices and by monitoring transactions between an MNC’s international affiliates (“cross-border transactions”) to ensure they were made at arm’s length. Innovatively, the BEAT combats BEPS by requiring MNCs to recalculate their taxable income entirely excluding deductions from certain cross-border transactions historically associated with BEPS. If tax liability on this modified taxable income is greater than an MNC’s regular tax liability, the MNC must pay the difference. The U.S. is unlikely to face repercussions for the reasons discussed above.
By: Mayer Stein
In May 2018, President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the landmark accord signed by Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany). The JCPOA, a hallmark of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy agenda, imposed restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for Iran’s re-entry into the international economy. Perhaps the most important concession granted to the Iranians in the JCPOA was the lifting of U.S. secondary sanctions. These sanctions prevented Iran from trading with much of the world out of fear of U.S. retaliation. When given the opportunity to trade with Iran or the U.S. almost any company would choose the U.S., which is the world’s largest economy. As a result, the lifting of sanctions provided a lifeline for the Iranian economy.
By: Benjamin Betik
Two years into his presidency, U.S. President Donald Trump is on the brink of implementing one of his trade proposals from his 2016 campaign, a tariff on imported auto vehicles. Under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, the President has the authority to impose import restrictions on products following the submission of a report from the Department of Commerce affirming that the importation of those products “threaten[s] to impair national security.” The connection between national security and auto vehicle imports is tenuous.