After the November 8, 2016 elections, Washington is preparing for a new Congress and the transition of power from eight years of the Democratic Obama administration to the Republican administration of President-elect Donald Trump.  As the incoming president builds his transition team and sets out his policy priorities, Steptoe will examine what these changes may mean for international trade and economic sanctions regimes, global businesses and their compliance obligations, and the international regulatory community.

On January 20, 2017, President-elect Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. One of his first responsibilities will be appointing Cabinet officials and nominating other senior government leaders to implement his policy priorities.  The transition team reportedly is specifically seeking officials with business experience, which could be a boon for businesses that must comply with a sometimes-dizzying array of international trade regulations promulgated by the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, and State.  However, these licensing and enforcement agencies may struggle with “brain drain” if a number of political appointees and career bureaucrats – who are responsible for implementing complex export controls and economic sanctions regulations – are replaced with newcomers lacking regulatory experience.

Be sure to check the blog in the coming days, as Steptoe examines potential regulatory changes and what they may mean for global trade, including our take on:

  • Iran sanctions. President-elect Trump has pledged to “renegotiate” the Iran nuclear deal to allow the US to impose more primary or secondary sanctions, but the EU is unlikely to support such a move, and Iran would almost certainly view it as a breach of the agreement.
  • Russia sanctions. The Trump administration may also seek revisions to the Russia sanctions regime, many aspects of which are implemented by Executive Order and subject to change based on executive discretion.
  • Cuba sanctions. Many aspects of the Cuba embargo are already codified by statute, although on the campaign trail Trump promised to undo the executive actions that Obama took to relax portions of the embargo not governed by statute.
  • CFIUS. It also remains to be seen whether a Trump administration has any long-term impact on cross-border investment, as the Trump transition team has indicated that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States will more closely examine proposed foreign investments, in particular deals related to the US agriculture industry and potentially Chinese investment.
  • Legislative developments. Finally, President Trump will have the benefit of Republicans controlling both chambers of the legislative branch when the 115th Congress gavels in, which may facilitate his administration’s ability to advance his legislative priorities.