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PUBLICATIONS 2019

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USPTO Announces New Trademark Rule Requiring Foreign-Domiciled Applicants and Registrants to Have a U.S.-Licensed Attorney

USPTO要求外国商标申请者由美国执业律师代理

Jining He 何冀宁

August 01, 2019

On July 2, 2019, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced a new rule requiring all foreign-domiciled trademark applicants, registrants, and parties to Trademark Trial and Appeal Board proceedings to be represented by an attorney who is licensed to practice law in the United States. The requirement applies to all trademark applicants, registrants, and parties whose permanent legal residence or principal place of business is outside the United States. This new trademark rule has an effective date of August 3, 2019.

The USPTO said the new rules were aimed at cracking down on fraudulent trademark registration applications and improving the quality of submissions to the USPTO. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Andrei Iancu said, “Businesses rely on the U.S. trademark register to make important legal decisions about their brands. In order to maintain the accuracy and integrity of the register, for the benefit of all its users, the USPTO must have the appropriate tools to enforce compliance by all applicants and registrants. This rule is a significant step in combatting fraudulent submissions.” “Many other countries worldwide have had this requirement for decades,” said USPTO Commissioner for Trademarks Mary Boney Denison. “We believe that this new rule will help improve the quality of submissions to the USPTO.”

Additionally, U.S.-licensed attorneys representing anyone before the USPTO in trademark matters are required to confirm they are an active member in good standing of their bar and to provide their bar membership information. The unauthorized practice of trademark law before the USPTO is a serious matter and we will take appropriate actions if unauthorized practice is occurring. These actions may include: Rejecting application submissions that were improperly signed or authorized; Excluding individuals and entities from acting as an attorney, correspondent, signatory, or domestic representative in all trademark matters before the USPTO. Employing any individual who is not authorized to practice before the USPTO to represent you in connection with your trademark application may: delay and prolong the trademark application examination process; lead to the abandonment of your application; jeopardize the validity of any resulting registration.

Therefore, all foreign-domiciled trademark applicants, registrants should be represented by an attorney who is licensed to practice law in the United States about trademark practice before the USPTO in order to obtain professional legal advice, avoid falling into the application trap, increase the possibility of registration, and better exercise the trademark right.

2019年7月2日,美国专利商标局(USPTO)宣布了一项新规定,要求所有外国注册商标申请人、注册人以及参与商标审判和上诉委员会诉讼的当事人均由美国执业律师代理,并由其负责处理所有的商标申请事务。该规定适用于所有商标申请人、注册人以及其永久法定居住地或主要营业地点在美国境外的当事人。此新商标规则将于2019年8月3日生效。

USPTO表示,新规定出台的目的是为了打击欺诈性商标申请,提高向USPTO提交文件的质量。USPTO局长安德烈·伊安库表示,“许多企业主要根据美国商标注册信息对自身品牌作出重要决定。为了保持注册的准确性和完整性以及保证所有用户的利益,USPTO必须制定适当的规定使所有申请人和注册人符合相关要求。新规定象征着我们在打击恶意提交商标申请的道路上迈出了至关重要的一步。” USPTO商标专员玛丽·博尼·丹尼森说:“几十年来,全球许多其他国家都有这样的要求。我们相信,这项新规定将有助于提高提交给USPTO的文件的质量。”

美国代理商标申请人的执业律师必须具备以下所有条件:证明他们在美国州、联邦或地区最高法院的良好信誉律师资格的声明;有关其律所成员资格的资料(说明、人数及加入年份)。如果不具备上述条件,从事未经授权的商标事务属严重的问题,USPTO将采取适当的行动,包括:驳回未适当签署或授权的申请;禁止个人和实体在USPTO的所有商标事务中担任律师、联系人、签署人或国内代理人。商标申请人可能会面临更长时间的商标申请审查程序,被迫放弃申请,直接危及商标的有效注册。

因此,外国商标申请者必须雇佣美国执业律师在USPTO从事商标事务,以获取专业的法律建议,避免落入申请陷阱,增加注册通过的可能性,更好地行使商标权。

 

CFIUS Clarifies Its Investment Funds Exceptions in the Critical Technology Pilot Program

CFIUS进一步明确试点项目中“投资基金”申报豁免的相关规定

Lulu Cheng/Qiaoli Xiao 程璐璐/肖巧丽

July 18, 2019

On August 1, 2018, U.S. Congress passed the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (“FIRRMA”), which reformed the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) review process and significantly expanded CFIUS jurisdiction over foreign investments. On October 10, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued an interim rule for a pilot program implementing certain provisions relating to critical technologies of FIRRMA that were not immediately effective upon enactment. The interim rule expands CFIUS jurisdiction over certain non-controlling foreign investments in critical technology companies in 27 pilot program industries, and requires mandatory declarations for such investments. Foreign investors will face a more stringent review process in the U.S.

However, FIRRMA provides an exemption for the foreign investments by or through an “investment fund”, which are not subject to the covered transactions if certain conditions are satisfied. The interim rule for the pilot program and the updated FAQs clarify the application of the FIRRMA “investment fund” exception to the pilot program, and reconfirm that the pilot program applies to the indirect investment of limited partners through investment funds.

First of all, FIRRMA limits the application of CFIUS authority over certain types of investments. An explicit exception is for investment involving air carriers. It is regulated that no investment involving an air carrier with an issued certificate shall be a pilot program covered transaction. The second exception clarifies that certain investment fund invested indirectly by foreign persons as a limited partner or equivalent on an advisory board or a committee of the fund shall not be covered for the purpose of FIRMMA if they satisfy the requirements at 31 CFR 801.304(a):

  1. The fund is managed exclusively by a general partner, a managing member, or an equivalent;

  2. The foreign person is not the general partner, managing member, or equivalent;

  3. The advisory board or committee does not have the ability to approve, disapprove, or otherwise control:(i) Investment decisions of the investment fund; or (ii) Decisions made by the general partner, managing member, or equivalent related to entities in which the investment fund is invested;

  4. The foreign person does not otherwise have the ability to control the investment fund, including the authority:(i) To approve, disapprove, or otherwise control investment decisions of the investment fund; (ii) To approve, disapprove, or otherwise control decisions made by the general partner, managing member, or equivalent related to entities in which the investment fund is invested; or (iii) To unilaterally dismiss, prevent the dismissal of, select, or determine the compensation of the general partner, managing member, or equivalent;

  5. The foreign person does not have access to material nonpublic technical information as a result of its participation on the advisory board or committee; and

  6. The investment otherwise meets the requirements of paragraph (4)(D) of subsection (a) of section 721 made effective by part 801.

 

That is to say, only when the foreign limited partner does not have the ability to make decisions and control the investment in a direct or indirect way, their investments shall not be considered a pilot covered transaction. In addition, if there are no extraordinary circumstances, a waiver of a potential conflict of interest, a waiver of an allocation limitation, or a similar activity, applicable to a transaction pursuant to the terms of an agreement governing an investment fund shall not be considered to constitute control of investment decisions of the investment fund or decisions relating to entities in which the investment fund is invested.

As it is clarified in FAQs on FIRMMA Critical Technology Pilot Program, if a foreign limited partner does not meet all of the criteria in 31 CFR 801.304(a), it is not necessarily subject to the pilot program. If a foreign limited partner is a member of the advisory board or committee of a fund, but all of the criteria set forth in 31 CFR 801.304(a) are not met, an analysis of the particular facts and circumstances will be required to determine if the indirect investment by the foreign person in a pilot program U.S. business through an investment fund is a pilot program covered transaction. The analysis would consider whether the investment could result in foreign control of a pilot program U.S. business or affords the foreign person any of the following:

  1. access to any material nonpublic technical information in the possession of the pilot program U.S. business;

  2. membership or observer rights on the board of directors or equivalent governing body of the pilot program U.S. business or the right to nominate an individual to a position on the board of directors or equivalent governing body of the pilot program U.S. business; or

  3. any involvement, other than through voting of shares, in substantive decision making of the pilot program U.S. business regarding the use, development, acquisition, or release of critical technology.

 

The pilot program requires the submission of mandatory declarations, but FIRRMA includes an exception to the mandatory declaration requirement for investments by investment funds meeting certain criteria. FAOs points out that FIRRMA’s exception to the mandatory declaration requirement applies in the context of the pilot program. FIRRMA includes an exception to the mandatory declaration requirement for investments by an investment fund if:

  1. the fund is managed exclusively by a general partner, a managing member, or an equivalent;

  2. the general partner, managing member, or equivalent is not a foreign person; and

  3. the investment fund satisfies, with respect to any foreign person with membership as a limited partner on an advisory board or a committee of the fund, the criteria specified in FIRRMA’s general clarification for investment funds (sections 721(a)(4)(D)(iv)(cc) and (dd) of the DPA).

 

If the same foreign person is making both an indirect investment in a pilot program U.S. business through an investment fund, as well as a direct investment in the pilot program U.S. business, CFIUS will consider the totality of the particular facts and circumstances of the transaction in determining whether a transaction is subject to its jurisdiction.

Accordingly, if a foreign investor wants to invest in the U.S. business by investing though an “investment fund” as a limited partner or equivalent on an advisory board or committee of the fund, the criteria of the exceptions in the interim rule should be satisfied. The foreign limited partner should participate in the investment fund passively to avoid triggering the CFIUS jurisdiction. In addition, in the FAQs, CFIUS further clarified that if a foreign limited partner does not meet all of the criteria in the interim rule of the pilot program, CFIUS will consider the totality of the particular facts and circumstances to determine whether the investment could result in foreign control and subject to CFIUS review. This exception provides a potential channel for foreign investors to invest in the U.S. business.

Under the background of the trade war between China and the U.S., FIRRMA and the implementation of the pilot program have increased the difficulty and uncertainty of foreign investors investing in the U.S. The foreign investments related to critical technologies may face more complicated procedures and stricter review process. Chinese investors need to conduct a compliance assessment of the investment in advance, and prepare themselves to encounter a more rigorous and time-consuming review process. On the other hand, FIRRMA did not overly extend CFIUS jurisdiction over non-control investments through “investment fund”. Chinese investors can reasonably take advantage of the exception clause of CFIUS to legally and effectively plan and promote transactions under the framework set by FIRRMA and the interim rule of the pilot program. If the investors want to invest through “investment fund” as a limited partner or equivalent on an advisory board or committee, they should plan the transaction structure and strategy as early as possible, and fully assess the relevant terms of the agreement, so as to ensure the compliance with the above provisions of the pilot program and avoid control of the investment fund decisions or access of any material nonpublic technical information. Therefore, the risks of CFIUS review and unnecessary burdens on costs and time can be reduced and the success rate of the investment can be improved.

2018年8月1日,美国国会通过了《外国投资风险审查现代化法案》 (“FIRRMA”), 大幅度扩大了美国外国投资委员会(“CFIUS”) 对外国投资审查的权限范围,同时也改革了CFIUS对外国投资的审查程序。10月10日,美国财政部针对FIRRMA中尚未生效的条款中涉及“关键技术”的部分,发布了试点项目暂行规定,CFIUS现有权对27个试点项目行业中的关键技术公司的某些非控制性外国投资进行审查,参与此类投资的各方需向CFIUS提交强制声明,赴美投资的外国投资者将面临更严峻的审查环境。

但是,FIRRMA中专门对外国投资者通过“投资基金”在美国进行的投资规定了申报豁免条款,满足一定条件的此类投资将不被视作“受辖交易”。试点项目暂行规定以及CFIUS出台的常见问题解答对于此投资基金豁免条款的适用进行了界定,再次确认试点项目适用于有限合伙人在投资基金中的间接投资。

首先,FIRRMA法案对CFIUS的管辖权一般规则规定了两个例外:第一项例外是外国人对航空公司以及其他航空承运人的非控制性投资。第二项例外是外国人对向关键基础设施或关键技术进行投资的基金进行非控制性投资。如果外国人作为美国“投资基金”的有限合伙人或咨询委员会的成员,且满足以下条件,则该外国人的该项投资属于CFIUS管辖的例外情形。

  1. 该基金完全由普通合伙人(或同等资格)管理;

  2. 普通合伙人(或同等资格)不是外国人士;

  3. 基金咨询委员会无法控制基金的投资决定,或无法控制由普通合伙人(或同等资格)做出的决定;

  4. 外国人士无法控制基金的投资决定,或无法控制由普通合伙人(或同等资格)做出的决定,或无法单方解雇普通合伙人(或同等资格)及其报酬;和

  5. 外国人士参加基金咨询委员会,无法接触有关基金投资“重大非公开技术信息”。

 

换言之,只有在有限合伙人对基金的投资没有直接或间接的决策权与控制权的前提下,才可免于申报CFIUS审查。其中,除特殊情形外,根据投资基金管理协议,约定在交易中放弃潜在利益冲突、分配限制等,不被认定为“控制投资基金的决定”,即不具有控制性。

同时,CFIUS在常见问题中说明,如果外国有限合伙人无法满足第二个例外的所有要求,将会结合以下三个方面分析该投资是否构成试点项目中的“外国控制”。

  1. 能否获取美国企业试点项目所拥有的任何重大非公开技术信息;

  2. 是否有美国企业试点项目的董事会或同等管理机构的成员资格或观察员权利,或提名个人担任美国企业试点项目的董事会或同等管理机构职位的权利; 或者

  3. 除了通过投票表决之外,是否能参与美国企业试点项目关键技术的使用、开发、获取或发布的实质性决策。

 

试点项目将涉及关键技术的27个行业纳入强行申报的范围,CFIUS明确指出,FIRRMA中规定的强行申报豁免也可以适用于试点项目,只要满足以下条件:

  1. 该基金完全由普通合伙人,管理成员或具有同等资格的人管理;

  2. 普通合伙人,管理成员或具有同等资格的人不是外国人;和

  3. 对于在咨询委员会或基金委员会中作为有限合伙人的任何外国人,该投资基金满足FIRRMA的一般规定标准。(《外国投资和国家安全法》721(a)(4)(D)(iv)(cc) & (dd))。

 

如果出现同一个外国人士通过投资基金间接投资和直接投资试点项目中约束的交易,CFIUS将综合考量来决定是否管辖。

由此可见,如果外国投资人希望通过以有限合伙人或咨询委员会成员的身份投资美国的“投资基金”以达到投资美国企业的目的,需要满足试点项目暂行规定中的例外条件,作为被动的有限合伙人参与投资基金,防止触发CFIUS的管辖权。在常见问题的解答中,CFIUS进一步澄清外国投资人如果无法满足试点项目暂行规定的有关“投资基金”的例外条件,需由CFIUS结合实际情况,综合考量是否构成“外国控制”,确认是否可免于受到CFIUS的审查。这一规定对于外国投资者来说可作为投资美国业务的一个潜在渠道。

在当前中美贸易战的大背景下,FIRRMA的出台以及试点项目的实行增加了外国投资者对美投资的难度和不确定性,新兴高科技领域的投资可能面临更为繁琐的程序和更加严格的审查。中国投资者事先需对投资交易进行合规评估,做好面临审查程序更为严格、耗时更长的心理预期。但是,FIRRMA并未过度扩展CFIUS对于基金非控制性投资的管辖范围。外国投资者可合理利用CFIUS审查的例外条款,在FIRRMA及当前试点项目暂行规定所设定的框架下合法有效地筹划和推进交易,如果希望以有限合伙人或咨询委员会成员身份投资美国的“投资基金”,应当尽早对交易结构与策略进行统筹与规划,注意对相关协议安排进行充分评估,确保符合试点项目的上述规定,以避免形成对基金的投资决策或任何重大非公开技术信息的控制,带来 CFIUS 审查程序和成本上不必要的负担以及结果的不确定性,从而尽可能提高投资的成功率。

 

 

 

Major Restrictions and Impacts in Trade War

中美贸易战:美国主要限制领域及影响

Lulu Cheng/Jining He 程璐璐/何冀宁

June 18, 2019

 

As the competition of trade between China and the U.S. grows intenser, the U.S. government has adopted more targeted policy measures in the fields of information and communications technology, infrastructure and scientific research in order to further protect its national security interests. Chinese companies and individuals will face a more challenging environment subject to highly uncertain political risks.

I. Information and Communications Technology

On May 10, 2019, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rejected China Mobile’s application to provide services in the U.S. due to national security risks amid an escalation in tensions between the two countries. The committee may also review other Chinese telecommunications companies operating in the U.S., such as China Unicom and China Telecom. On May 15, 2019, President Donald Trump signed an executive order (“ Order”) entitled “Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain”, which prohibits transactions and use of foreign information technology and services that may pose a particular threat to U.S. national security, foreign policy, and the economy. The Order prohibits U.S. companies from buying, using, and transacting communications equipment products and services that may involve theft of U.S. intelligence, espionage, or national security, because they fear that foreign competitors will use the supply chain to build critical infrastructure that poses a threat to national security. This has a particularly significant impact on China's information and communications technology (ICT) companies such as Huawei. The next day, the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) added Huawei and its 68 subsidiaries to its list of export-controlled entities, ordering that US companies not to sell products and technologies to Huawei and its subsidiaries without approval.

On May 20, Google announced that it would suspend its Android cooperation with Huawei. Microsoft also quietly withdrew Huawei laptops from its online store. On May 22, ARM instructed employees to halt "all active contracts, support entitlements, and any pending engagements” with Huawei. The ripple effect of the Order has affected Huawei's entry into the U.S. and overseas markets, which has brought layers of obstacles to Huawei's development. In addition, Chinese computer vision companies such as Hikvision, Dahua, YITU, SenseTime and Beijing Megvii are at risk of being added to the Entity List. The list names foreign and U.S. companies that must be approved by the U.S. government before a deal can be made. Then measures against companies such as Hikvision will be similar to those for Huawei.

Undoubtedly, this Order is a wake-up call for Chinese ICT entities, especially those invested, controlled and supported by the government. At present, the negotiations between China and the U.S. are deadlocked. The U.S. government can impose sanctions and restrictions on ICT enterprises based on the concerns of “national security”. Chinese ICT entities should prepare for the market environment and policy risks they will face. In the cold war of technology and trade, the U.S. regards the international market as bargaining for a higher value. Other countries will impose sanctions policies to varying degrees by under the pressure, which may strengthen restrictions and challenges on ICT enterprises.

II. Infrastructure

In addition to the information and communications technology enterprises, Chinese transportation infrastructure companies are also restricted by the U.S. On May 15, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Transportation Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act to prevent federal transit money from being granted to local transit agencies to procure rail rolling stock made by manufacturers owned, controlled, or subsidized by China. Though the bill did not name any specific company, such a description would clearly apply to CRRC Corporation Limited (CRRC).

A day after the House bill was introduced, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing about the impact of “state-owned enterprises”—with particular close scrutiny on CRRC and BYD—on the U.S. public transit and freight rail sectors. At the hearing, the committee expressed concerns about the video surveillance, monitoring and diagnostic system, data interface and automatic train control system in the CRRC’s Washington bidding contract. They said that Chinese latest advances in Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition technology would enable China on intelligence gathering, and thus threaten the U.S. network infrastructure security. On May 19, Senator Chuck Schumer called on the U.S. Department of Commerce to investigate whether CRRC’s proposal to design new subway cars for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) could pose a threat to national security.

On May 23, Virginia and Maryland Senators enacted the Metro Safety, Accountability, and Investment Act of 2019, Section 9 of which prohibited Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) from using federal funds “on a contract for rolling stock from any country that meets certain criteria related to illegal subsidies for state-owned enterprises.”

Last year, U.S. Congress passed the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) to strengthen the review processes of the foreign investment in the U.S. for national security threats. If the investment in U.S. businesses involving sensitive personal data, critical infrastructure, or critical technology is not non-passive or non-controlling, it will be subject to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) review. Chinese infrastructure companies will face a more challenging market environment in the U.S.

Accordingly, the Chinese infrastructure enterprises represented by CRRC have also become the key targets restricted by the U.S. on the grounds of national security. The review processes and restriction measures are becoming more stringent. Once the relevant bills proposed by the Senate and the House of Representatives are passed, the federal funds will be banned from the railway projects related to Chinese state-owned enterprises. The potential contracts between CRRC and transportation authority of New York and Washington will be directly affected. At the same time, the blocked rail transit project will further influence its upstream and downstream supply chain. Related Chinese cooperative enterprises, such as the developers, contractors, material suppliers, and manufacturers, may be adversely affected.

III. Scientific Research

The dilemma of negotiations between China and the U.S. has impacts on academic research. The U.S. believes that the open cooperation environment of its academic institutions may be targets of Chinese spies trying to steal and exploit information of advanced technology and cutting-edge research from laboratories.

On November 1, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced “China Initiatives”, which reflects the Department’s strategic priority of countering Chinese national security threats and reinforces the President’s overall national security strategy. This new Initiative aims to combat Chinese economic espionage. The Department has set the goal for the Initiative to develop an enforcement strategy concerning non-traditional collectors (e.g., researchers in labs, universities, and the defense industrial base) that are being coopted into transferring technology contrary to U.S. interests. The U.S. government has strengthened the security review procedures for researchers and universities, not only restricted visa application from Chinese students who studied in the high-tech fields, but also issued guidelines on "academic espionage technology” to the college. Once the suspicious actions are discovered, such as transferring of technology, stealing scientific research or intellectual property, the FBI will investigate directly.

Two years ago, the National Institute of Health (NIH) began investigating scholars in Thousand Talents Program at Emory University. Francis Collins, the NIH's director, reiterated that American research was suffering from "foreign influence" and intellectual property rights were being lost. Therefore, it is recommended that American universities “fire some people” and point to those who accept foreign Thousand Talent Program. On April 19th, it is reported that MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston has ousted three of five scientists federal authorities identified as being involved in Chinese efforts to steal American research. On May 16, Emory University closed the laboratory of Chinese biologist Xiaojiang Li without any notice or statement. On May 23rd. Emory claims that Mr. Li and his wife, Shihua Li, were fired for not adequately disclosing funds from abroad and the scope of their work at Chinese institutions and universities.

Obviously, these initiatives are made by schools and institutions in response to the NIH policy, and there may be more such events in the future. It is reported that the NIH has identified at least 190 funded projects from NIH that are problematic and has initiated investigations in 55 research institutions. Recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that it will significantly increase the Student and Exchange Scholar Information System (SEVIS) fees and visitor visa fees, and that some Chinese visas to the U.S. are restricted, such as extending the period of case review in visa application, shortening the validity period, and increasing the refusal rate. This adjustment may lead to a decline in the number of students studying and communicating in the U.S.

 

The impacts on Chinese companies and individuals are not limited to the ICT, infrastructure and scientific research fields. With the escalation of trade conflicts between the U.S. and China, the U.S. restrictions have become multifaceted. According to the “China Initiative”, the U.S. will put more efforts to conduct in-depth investigations and file lawsuits against Chinese companies suspected of violating The Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA), FIRRMA, and other related laws and regulations. Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the release of an updated version of the “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs” guidance to assist prosecutors in assessing the effectiveness of the company’s compliance program in the context of a criminal investigation.

Obviously, for Chinese companies planning to enter the U.S. market, the market environment has become more complicated and challenging, so they should fully prepare themselves to deal with such risks in advance. For Chinese companies already doing business in the U.S., they should face the challenges and have the courage to file the lawsuits against the unreasonable restrictions imposed by the U.S. The enterprises should also strictly regulate their business behaviors in accordance with relevant U.S. laws and regulations and design a comprehensive and effective compliance system based on the company’s actual condition. Moreover, Chinese companies should adhere to independent research and development, improve the ability of scientific and technological innovation, prevent excessive dependence on foreign suppliers, ensure the operation of the supply chain, and prepare the backup in advance to improve their market competitiveness.

随着中美贸易摩擦加剧,美国政府为进一步保护其国家安全利益,在通信技术、基础设施和科研等领域采取了更多具有针对性的政策措施。中国企业和个人在美国将面临更严峻的政策环境与不确定的政治风险。

1.通信技术领域  

2019年5月10日,美国联邦通信委员会(FCC)以安全为由全票否决中国移动向美国公民提供手机服务的申请。委员会还可能审查其他在美经营的中国电讯商,如中国联通与中国电信。15日, Donald Trump 签署《确保信息通信技术与服务供应链安全》行政令,禁止交易、使用可能对美国国家安全、外交政策和经济构成特殊威胁的外国信息技术和服务。因担心外国竞争对手利用供应链建设关键基础设施会对国家安全造成威胁,该行政令禁止美国企业购买、使用、交易有可能涉及窃取美国情报、间谍风险或者危害国家安全的通讯设备产品和服务,这对以华为为首的中国通信技术企业的影响尤为显著。次日,美国商务部(BIS)宣布将华为及其68家子公司列入出口管制实体名单之列,命令未经批准美国公司不得销售产品和技术给华为及其子公司。

5月20日,谷歌宣布中止与华为在安卓系统方面的合作;微软商城也随即下线了华为的电脑产品;22日,英国芯片巨头ARM指示员工停止与华为的“所有有效合同,支持权利以及任何未决的约定”。行政令所产生的涟漪效应,影响了华为进入美国和海外市场,为华为的发展带来层层阻碍。除此之外,海康威视、大华、依图、商汤和旷世等中国计算机视觉公司也面临被列入实体名单的风险。该名单指定的外国公司和美国公司在交易之前必须得到美国政府的批准,那么针对海康威视等公司的措施将与对于华为的许可证要求类似。

这一行政令无疑为中国的通信技术企业,尤其是涉及政府投资、控制、扶持的企业敲响警钟。当前中美贸易谈判陷入僵局,美国政府随时能以“危害国家安全”为由对信息技术企业进行制裁与限制,中资企业应对其将面临的市场环境与政策风险做好准备。在这一背景下,美国把国际市场作为增值博弈的筹码,其他国家受其施压可能会不同程度地响应制裁政策,通信技术企业的海外发展可能面临更大挑战。

2.基础设施领域

除通信技术领域外,中国交通基础设施企业也进一步受到了美国的限制。5月15日,美国众议院提出《交通基础设施车辆安全法》草案,禁止使用联邦资金从中国拥有、控制或补贴的公司购买轨道交通车辆。草案虽未提及特定国家和企业,但明显指向中国中车股份有限公司(中车)。

次日,众议院交通和基础设施委员会(T&I)就中国国有企业对美国公共运输和货运部门产生的影响召开听证会,重点关注中车与比亚迪。听证会上对中车华盛顿竞标合同中的视频监控、系统监控和诊断、数据接口和自动列车控制系统表达了担忧,认为中国先进的人工智能和面部识别技术使其有能力进行情报收集,并威胁到美国的网络和基础设施安全。19日,美国民主党参议院议员 Chuck Schumer 要求商务部对中车设计的纽约市新地铁是否可能威胁国家安全展开 “由上而下” 的审查。23日,弗吉尼亚州和马里兰州参议员提出《2019年地铁安全、问责和投资法案》的第9条明确禁止华盛顿地铁运输局(WMATA)使用联邦资金与任何接受非法补贴的国有企业签订合同。

值得注意的是,去年,美国国会通过了《外国投资风险审查现代化法案》(FIRRMA),强化了对涉及美国国家安全的外国投资的审查。法案生效后,如果外国对涉及“关键技术”、“关键基础设施”、以及“美国公民的敏感个人数据”的美国企业进行的投资不是“非被动投资”与“少数股权投资”,将受到美国外国投资委员会(CFIUS)的管辖,审查程序也将更加复杂,这都意味着中国基础设施企业在美将面临更加严峻的市场环境。

由此可见,以中车为代表的中资基础设施企业正与通信技术企业一道,成为美国以保护国家安全为由进行约束的重点对象,面临更严格的审查和限制措施。一旦参众两院所提出的有关法案被通过,美国联邦拨款将被禁止用于与中国国有企业有关的铁路项目,中车在华盛顿与纽约参与的地铁建设工程竞标和合同签订将受到直接影响。同时,受阻的轨道交通业务将进一步波及其上下游产业链,开发商、工程承包商、材料供应商、设备制造商等相关中资合作企业可能会受到不利影响。

3.科研领域

中美对峙同时还延伸到学术研究领域。美方认为其学术机构开放的合作环境为外国间谍活动提供了温床,先进技术和前沿研究已成为间谍渗透的主要对象。

2018年11月1日,美国司法部长 Jeff Sessions 宣布启动实施“中国行动”计划(“中国行动”),旨在加强推行特朗普提出的国家安全总体战略,重点聚焦在打击中国针对美国的经济间谍活动。“中国行动”将在学术领域从事科研工作的中国人定义为“非典型的信息收集人员”,并且视其为威胁美国经济和国家安全的潜在嫌疑人,列为潜在的重点调查对象。美国政府加强对科研人员和大学的安全审查程序,不仅对高科技领域专业的中国留学生签证设卡,还下发了有关“学术间谍情报技术”的指南。一旦发现涉嫌技术转移,试图窃取科研成果、知识产权等行为,联邦调查局将直接立案调查采取行动。

两年前,美国国家卫生研究院(NIH)就开始对埃默里大学的“千人计划”学者进行调查。今年四月,NIH主任 Francis Collins 重申,美国的科研正遭受“外国势力”影响,知识产权流失,因此建议美国高校“要开除一部分人”,并将矛头指向那些接受“外国”人才招募计划的学者。4月19日《科学》杂志披露MD安德森癌症中心以不当利用美国科学研究、接受国外教职或人才招募计划为由,驱逐了三名华人科学家。5月16日,埃默里大学在没有任何通知或声明的情况下关闭华人生物学家李晓江的实验室。23日,埃默里大学声称,李晓江和李世华教授夫妇因没有充分公开来自国外的研究经费以及他们在中国研究机构和大学的工作范围而被解雇。

     显然,这些举措都是学校和机构为响应NIH政策而做出的,未来此类事件可能会更多。根据《科学》杂志报道,目前NIH已查明,至少有190项来自NIH的基金资助项目存在问题,并且已对55个研究机构启动调查。近日,美国国土安全部宣布将大幅增加学生与交换学者信息系统(SEVIS)费用以及访问学者签证费,并且中国部分赴美留学人员的签证受到限制,出现签证审查周期延长、有效期缩短以及拒签率上升的情况。在中美关系紧张之际,此举可能会导致赴美求学和交流人员的减少。

 

当前中国企业和个人在美国受到的影响并不仅限于上述通信技术、基础设施和科研领域,随贸易冲突的升级,美国采取的措施是多方位的。“中国行动”指出,美国将加大力度对于涉嫌违反《美国反海外腐败法》、《外国投资风险审查更新法案》以及其他美国法律的中国公司展开深入调查并提起诉讼。此外,美国司法部发布最新版《公司合规评估指南》,协助检察官在刑事调查时对公司的合规问题开展评估,严格审查企业合规程序。

由此可见,对于计划进驻美国市场的中国企业而言,市场环境将更为复杂、更具挑战,企业应当提前做好应对不确定性风险的心理准备。已在美国开展经营的中资企业更应直面挑战,对美国当局无端采取的不当限制行为提起诉讼。企业本身也应当根据美国相关法律规定严格规范其海外经营行为,结合公司实际情况设计全面有效的合规体系。同时,坚持自主研发,提高科技创新的能力,防止过分依赖外国供应商,保证供应链的顺利运转,提前做好备选计划,真正提高市场竞争力。

 

 

DOJ Releases Updated Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs

美国司法部发布最新《公司合规评估指南》

Fan Zhang/Lulu Cheng/Qiaoli Xiao 张帆/程璐璐/肖巧丽

May 08, 2019

 

Overview

On April 30, 2019, the Assistant Attorney General (AAG) for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Criminal Division, Brian Benczkowski, announced the release of an updated version of the “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs” guidance, which was originally issued by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section in February 2017. The document is intended to assist prosecutors in assessing the effectiveness of the company’s compliance program in the context of a criminal investigation, and determining the appropriate form of any resolution or prosecution, correspondent monetary penalty, and compliance obligations contained in any corporate criminal resolution.

The refresh reflects the DOJ’s evaluation priorities, and its increasing emphasis on the effectiveness of the corporate compliance programs. It demonstrates that DOJ is keen to provide companies with the tools used to prevent, detect and remediate the misconduct and ensure their compliance programs meet DOJ’s expectations. The guidance also reaffirms that DOJ “does not use any rigid formula to assess the effectiveness of corporate compliance programs.” DOJ would recognize “each company’s risk profile and solutions to reduce its risks warrant particularized evaluation” and make an individualized determination in each case. Thus, companies shall understand what constitutes a best compliance program.

 

Highlights of the Guidance

This revised document seeks to better harmonize itself with other DOJ’s guidance and legal standards, as well as providing additional context for DOJ’s multifactor analysis of a company’s compliance program. Different from the 2017 Guidance, which included a list of 11 key evaluation topics (and 119 questions), it integrates and reorganizes the topics and questions under three fundamental questions for prosecutors to ask in evaluating compliance programs:

1. Is the Corporation’s Compliance Program Well Designed?

Different companies have different risks based on their industry, market environment, clients and business partners, foreign-government attitude, relationship with third parties, and business expenses and donations. Accordingly, when prosecutors assess the adequacy and effectiveness of corporate compliance program at the time of the offense, as well as at the time of a charging decision, there are several directions can be checked out. All topics set forth below have been included in evaluating a corporation’s compliance program, such as risk assessment, policies and procedures, training and communications, confidential reporting structure and investigation process, third-party management, and mergers and acquisitions.

2. Is the Corporation’s Compliance Program Being Implemented Effectively?

At the time of considering the practice situation of the compliance program, there are some standards should be satisfied, for example, whether a compliance program is implemented, reviewed, and revised in an effective manner, whether there are sufficient staff to audit, document, analyze and utilize the results of the compliance program, and whether the corporation’s employees are adequately informed about the compliance program and are convinced of the corporation’s commitment to it. Specifically, three main factors are used to assess the effective implementation of a compliance program, commitment by senior and middle management, autonomy and resources, as well as incentives and disciplinary measures.

3. Does the Corporation’s Compliance Program Work in Practice?

Three considerations are deployed by prosecutors in evaluating how a company’s compliance program works on the ground, especially when the misconduct was not immediately detected. First, whether companies continuously review their compliance, undertake periodic testing and audits of their legal compliance, and frequently update their changes accordingly. Second, whether a company has a well-functioning investigation mechanism that can observe any allegations and suspicions of misconduct by the company. Third, whether a company makes root-cause analysis of any underlying misconduct and remedies its problems in order to better reduce similar risk in the future.

Compared with the 2017 Guidance, the updated DOJ guidance reorganized the structure of its content, provided further explanation as to the application of the compliance and supplemented a few new factors. DOJ chose to systemize and rearrange all the factors that are used to evaluate company’s performance in accordance with a corporation’s compliance program, based on their different characteristics, by putting forward three fundamental questions instead of directly listing topics without classification like the prior version. Additionally, DOJ added new contents into the guidance.

 

Suggestions on Ethics & Compliance

In order to be delisted in the “sanction blacklist” and to reduce legal risks, Chinese companies in the United States shall review internal compliance programs and adapt to the adjustments of the updated the 2017 Guidance.

1. The corporation’s compliance program shall be well designed through allocating the resources and forming a compliance culture within the company.

In the aspect of risk assessment, Chinese corporation has to address and detect the particular types of misconduct most likely to occur in a particular corporation’s line of business, these misconducts will be tailored based on the company’s compliance program. Specifically, a qualified and effective risk-based compliance program requires appropriate attention and the allocation of resources to high-risk areas. The company is suggested to create compliance atmosphere and update policies and procedures in light of lessons learned from prior weaknesses. To guarantee the implementation of the system, the corporation is encouraged to hire Chief Compliance Officer with experience and qualifications as a gatekeeper.

2. The corporation’s compliance program shall be implemented effectively instead of a “paper program”.

Tailoring training and communication will be beneficial for the corporation. Confidential reporting mechanism and due diligence process ensure the effectiveness of the compliance program. The corporation shall take disciplinary actions in response to the misconduct timely and hold managers accountable under the supervision. Senior and middle management should articulate the company’s ethical standards from top to the bottom to encourage compliance. It is clearly prohibited that managers tolerate greater compliance risks in pursuit of greater revenues.

3. The corporation’s compliance program shall work in practice at the time of offence.

The guidance requires improvements and evolution of compliance program to follow changes over time. The corporation shall continuously improve the internal system by periodic testing and review. In addition to the prevention of misconduct, it is necessary for the corporation to timely respond to the investigation and remediation of any underlying misconduct.

While facing the changing investment environment overseas and intensified trade frictions between two countries, Chinese companies should pay more attention to policy changes and legal compliance to deal with risks. It is highly recommended that the corporation employ local lawyers to reduce the cost of non-compliance.

简概

2019年4月30日,美国司法部刑事司发布了最新版《公司合规评估指南》 (下称“新指南”)。新指南在2017年2月版本的基础上进行了补充修改,旨在更有效地协助检察官在刑事调查时对所涉及的公司合规问题开展评估,进而确定决议或起诉的适当形式、相应的罚金以及公司的合规义务(如监管、报告义务)。

 

新指南反映了美国司法部在评估公司合规制度时的重要考量因素,也表明了司法部对公司合规的日益重视,并积极为公司提供预防、检测和纠正不当行为的评估工具,以帮助公司建立符合司法部要求的合规程序。同时,新指南重申了司法部对公司合规制度的评估并没有固定的模式,司法部将结合个案情况,具体分析每家公司的风险状况与解决制度,从而做出针对性的评估。因此,公司有必要充分理解新指南的要求,结合公司状况,建立有效的合规制度。

 

新指南亮点

2017年的指南阐述了公司合规评估相关的11个重要主题和119个示例问题。与该版本相比,新指南更具有务实和实操性,进一步整合与细化了上述主题和示例问题,强调了检察官在公司合规时应考虑的三个基本问题:

 

 1. 公司合规制度的设计是否完善

 

公司本身所处的行业、市场环境,所服务的客户、商业合作伙伴和第三方,外国政府对公司在其域内开展活动的态度,以及公司的花费和慈善等各方面的不同,意味着每个公司都面临着不同于其他公司的风险。因此,当公司违法行为出现时或起诉决定提起时,检察官将从“风险评价”、“政策与程序”、“培训与交流”、“保密报告体系和调查程序”、“第三方管理”以及“兼并收购”等主题对公司合规制度设计的完善性和执行的有效性进行评估。

 

2. 公司合规制度是否落实到位

 

在对合规制度的落实情况进行评估时,通常会从以下三个主题进行:合规制度是否有效实施、审查和修订;公司是否有充足的员工对合规调查的结果进行审计、记录、分析和运用;公司员工是否已经充分了解合规制度,并确信公司做出的承诺。在考虑合规制度的实践有效性这个问题上,具体而言,检察官可以对以下三个重要的基本因素进行:中高级管理层的承诺;自主权和资源;奖励措施及纪律。

3. 公司合规制度在实践中是否有效

 

评估公司合规制度在实践中是否发挥了实际作用,尤其是在不法行为没有被及时发现的情况下合规制度的实践是否有效,检察官可以大概从三个方面入手,对合规程序的运用情况进行考察。第一,公司是否对其合规制度持续改进、定期测试和评审以及因此而发生的种种变化进行更新;第二,公司是否存在一个运行良好和资金充足的调查机制,可以针对公司的任何不当行为在受到指控或怀疑时进行及时和彻底的调查;第三,公司是否对不当行为发生的根本原因进行分析以及及时采取补救措施,以期更好地减少未来为公司再次带来风险的可能。

 

与2017年的指南相比,新指南对内容进行了结构上的重组,为合规制度的适用提供更多的解释,并丰富了合规指南的评估因素。美国司法部根据旧版中所提出的主题,通过评估其各个主题的特点,将这些用来评估公司行为是否符合其合规制度的主题重新归纳分类在三个基本问题下,使得指南更加清晰、体系化,为检察官在处理有关案件时提供更全面的思考方向。除此之外,美国司法部根据在实践中发展所发现的问题,在指南的内容上加以补充。

 

合规建议

为避免被列入“制裁黑名单”,在美中资企业亟需根据司法部新指南及时检测并调整内部合规制度,做好事先防范,以此降低经营中的法律风险。

 

1. 整合公司资源,设计全面且有效的合规配套体系,培育企业合规文化。

 

在风险评估方面,企业所设计的合规体系应当能够检测出该公司在其业务领域中易发生的特定违规行为,通过合规政策及奖惩机制防止违规行为。尤其需要集中审核高风险的业务,针对风险评估的结果合理配置公司资源。及时更新公司合规程序和内部控制体系,定期修正风险评估标准。公司在制定合规政策和建立合规体系时,降低企业的风险敞口,将合规文化融入到日常经营中。设立合规部并配备首席合规官,保持合规管理团队的独立性和专业性,全面监督员工的不当行为,应对可能面临的法律风险,为公司提供合规管理的组织保障。加强对员工的合规培训和交流,建立有效的匿名举报机制和调查程序,及时处理违规行为,确认问责机制。

 

2. 落实制定的合规制度和程序。

 

合规应从高层做起,企业领导人自身要树立正确的合规意识,重视合规制度,自上而下形成合规企业文化,不得为了公司收入而不履行合规义务。最大限度赋予合规部门独立审查权。将合规要求与职位晋升、绩效考核相挂钩,激励员工遵守员工规范。

 

3. 强化公司合规体系在实务中的作用。

 

公司合规体系应当持续提升、定期测试和审查,不断完善合规程序,以确保公司的合规与道德要求被遵守。合规部门审查违规行为时,调查人员应确定调查范围并跟进,保证合规审查标准一致,通过对违规行为的分析改进合规管理体系。

 

面对多变的海外投资环境,贸易摩擦加剧,在美中资企业需及时关注政策变动,重视法律合规,增加对合规管理的资金投入,聘请美国当地有丰富经验的律师等专业资源,降低违规成本,强化危机处理能力,应对潜在的海外法律风险。

 

USTR Released Product Exclusions from Additional Tariffs Subject to Section 301

美国贸易代表(USTR)公布免除301条款下额外关税的商品清单

Zongtai (Tony) Zhou 周宗泰

March 28, 2019

 

Background

 

Following the investigation on China’s acts under the Section 301 of the Trade Act 1974 (“Section 301”) in March 2018, under which the U.S. President is given the authority to take all appropriate actions, including retaliation, to obtain the removal of any act, policy, or practice of a foreign government that violates an international trade agreement or is unjustified, unreasonable, or discriminatory, and that burdens or restricts U.S commerce. United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) determined that China’s acts, policies and practices posted unreasonable, discriminatory burdens on U.S. commerce. USTR thereby imposed extra tariffs on certain Chinese products that are imported from China as a response to China’s unfair trade practices related to the forced transfer of American technology and intellectual property.  However, there are certain categories of goods from China could be exempted from this additional tax.

 

Three Lists of Additional Duty Rate

 

As of today, there are three lists (some refer to it as tranches) of products on which additional duties would be imposed after List 1 came in effect on July 6; 2018, List 2 on August 23, 2018, and List 3 on September 24, 2018. 

 

Specifically, List 1 imposed additional duty rate of 25% on $34 billion worth of goods from China; List 2 imposed additional duty rate of 25% on $16 billion worth of goods from China, and List 3 initially imposed additional 10% duty rate on $200 billion worth goods from China, but it was increased to 25% on January 1st, 2019.  Meanwhile, it has been announced that there is the possibility of the publication of a List 4, but there is not yet an accurate date of its publication; however, it is estimated to be an additional 25% duty rate on $267 billion worth of goods from China, which will encompass all the rest of goods that were not included in the first three lists.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exemptions from Additional Tariffs

 

1st Exclusion on List 1

On December 28, 2018, USTR announced the first batch of products exclusions (one-year exclusion) from section 301 tariffs, these products are either fully or partially exempted.  Moreover, this product exclusions apply retroactively as of July 6, 2018, when the first set, the List 1 one that imposed additional 25% tariffs on $34 billion worth of goods, of tariffs came into effect.  This granted exclusion apply not only to U.S. importers who requested for the exclusion, but all U.S. importers of the excluded product categories and tariffs code.

 

The majority of the products that are excluded are under following categories: (1) Single-row radial bearings having an outside diameter between 9mm and 100mm; however, single row radial bearing with a diameter under 9mm, or over 100mm, have not been excluded; (2) injection or compression type molds for rubber or plastics ; (3) linear-acting hydraulic engines and motors ; (4) refrigerating or freezing equipment like ice making machines and drinking water coolers; and Thermostats for air conditioning or heating system.

 

Furthermore, the fully exempted products are under the following categories: (1) hydraulic power engines; (2) drinking-water coolers; (3) injection molds; (4) single-row, radial ball bearings having an outside diameter of 9 mm but not over 30 mm; (5) single-row, radial ball bearings having an outside diameter over 30 mm but not over 52 mm; (6) certain ball bearings having an outside diameter over 52 mm but not over 100 mm; and (7) CB radio transceivers.

 

Additionally, partially exempted products are under the categories: (1) outboard marine engines; (2) salad spinners; (3) water filtration apparatus; (4) winches; (5) belt conveyors; (6) papermaking machinery components; (7) workstands for miter saws; (8) radiation therapy systems; (9) thermostats for HVAC system.

 

2nd Exclusion on List 1

On March 25, 2019, USTR announced the second batch of exclusions to the List 1 of Chinese goods subject to a 25% valorem tariffs on $34 billion worth of goods from China, which went into effect on July 6, 2018.  This exclusion applies retroactively on July 6, 2018, and extend for one year after the March 25th, 2019, the publication date. 

 

Following categories are the excluded products in the most recent exclusions: (1) submersible pumps; (2) breast pumps; (3) impellers and impeller housings; (4) salad spinners, (5) water filters for pools, (6) aquariums, etc.; (7) water purifiers; (8) steel bucket elevators; (9) rubber tracks used on construction equipment; (10) automated data processing storage units; (11) self-propelled pavers; (12) check valves; (13) electric motors; (14) electrical transformers; (15) soldering irons; (16) liquid crystal display modules; and (17) musical tuner.

 

Since USTR is reviewing all the requests on a rolling basis, there are, as of now, 1,004 exclusion requests have been granted; they are, however, 5,312 requested denied and 4,520 requests are still pending.  For those that have not apply for exclusion, or whose request was denied, USTR suggested that it is still possible that the products could still be qualified if there is a later filed request that cover the same 10-digit HTS provision is granted.

 

Exclusion on List 2 & List 3

Despite USTR initiated a similar exclusion procedure on List 2 tariffs (the one went into effect on August 23, 2018 and imposed additional duty rate of 25% on $16 billion worth of goods from China) on September 18, 2018, which was concluded on December 18, 2018, there is no final conclusion/determinations in terms of the dealings with the exclusions request filing for List 2.  Meanwhile, there is no proceedings on exclusion for List 3 (imposed additional 10% duty rate on $200 billion worth goods from China, but it was increased to 25% on January 1st, 2019). 

简概

 

2018年3月,美国政府根据《1974年贸易法》的第301条(“(1法条款”)对中国“不公平商业行为”进行了调查。此法授权美国总统采取包括报复在内的一切适当行动,保护美国国家贸易利益,促使外国政府停止违反国际贸易协定且限制美国贸易的政策和行为。经过调查,美国贸易代表(USTR)认定中国的政策和行为对美国贸易造成不合理和歧视性的负担,损害了美国的国家贸易利益。因此,USTR对部分中国产品征收额外关税,以此回应中国强行要求美国公司转让技术和知识产权的不公平贸易行为。但是,某些类别的中国商品可免除此额外税。

 

额外征收关税的三个清单

 

USTR迄今发布了三个将会被额外征取关税的商品清单。 清单一是于2018年七月6日实施的,清单二是于2018年8月23日实施的,清单三是有2018年9月24日实施的。

 

清单一对来自中国的价值为340亿美元的商品征收25%的额外关税;清单二对来自中国的价值为160亿美元的商品征收25%的额外关税;清单三最初对来自中国的价值为2000亿美元的商品征收10%的额外关税,但在2019年1月1日增加到25%。 USTR宣布有可能出版清单4,但目前还没有确切的出版日期; 但是据相关人员估计,清单4将会对于来自中国的价值为2670亿美元的商品征收25%的额外关税,其将包括前三个列表中未包括的所有其他来自中国的商品。

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

豁免关税的商品

 

清单一上的第一批豁免额外关税的产品

2018年12月28日,USTR公布了在清单一中的第一批获得免除额外关税的商品(豁免清单一),这些商品将会被免除从2018年7月6日起一年的额外关税;这些商品中有些是获得了豁免全部额外关税的,也有些是获得了免除部分额外关税的。获得免除额外关税的条款不仅适用于在根据此法条下申请了免除额外关税的美国进口商,而将用于所有在豁免额外关税清单上的产美国进口商(也包括没有提交申请的)的商品;其商品将以品类别和关税代码在清单上呈现。

 

大多数豁免除额外关税的产品属于以下类别:(1)外径为9mm至100mm的单列径向轴承,但不包括直径小于9mm或超过100mm的单列径向轴承; (2)用于注射或压缩型橡胶或塑料的模具; (3)线性作用液压发动机和电动机; (4)制冰机和饮用水冷却器等冷冻或冷冻设备;用于空调或加热系统的恒温器。

 

以下产品类别豁免全部额外关税:(1)液压动力发动机; (2)饮用水冷却器; (3)注塑模具; (4)单列径向球轴承,外径9毫米但不超过30毫米; (5)外径超过30毫米但不超过52毫米的单列径向球轴承; (6)某些滚珠轴承的外径超过52毫米但不超过100毫米; (7)CB无线电收发器。

 

以下产品类别豁免部分额外关税:(1)船外发动机; (2)沙拉旋转器/沙拉甩水器; (3)水过滤装置; (4)绞车; (5)皮带输送机; (6)造纸机械和部件; (7)斜切锯的工作台; (8)放射治疗系统; (9)用于HVAC系统的恒温器。

 

清单一上的第二批豁免额外关税的产品

2019年3月25日,USTR公布了在清单一中的第二批获得免除额外关税的商品(豁免清单二),这些商品(没有包含在豁免清单一中的)将会被免除从2018年7月6日起一年的额外关税该商品。

 

以下类别是最近获得豁免额外关税的产品:1)潜水泵; (2)吸乳器; (3)叶轮和叶轮外壳; (4)沙拉旋转器/沙拉甩水器,(5)游泳池用水过滤器,(6)水族箱类; (7)净水器; (8)钢斗提升机; (9)建筑设备上使用的橡胶履带; (10)自动数据处理存储单元; (11)自走式摊铺机; (12)止回阀; (13)电动机; (14)电力变压器; (15)烙铁; (16)液晶显示模块; 和(17)音乐调谐器。

 

由于USTR正在持续审查所有申请豁免额外关税的请求,目前已批准了1004项额外关税豁免申请;但是,也有5312项申请被拒绝;到目前为止,仍然还有4520件请求正在审理中。对于那些没有申请豁免额外关税的,或者请求被拒绝的商家,USTR建议继续提交申请,因为如果有后来提交的请求涵盖相同的10位HTS序列号,那么产品仍有可能仍然可能豁免额外关税。

 

清单二与清单三上的产品豁免额外关税情况

尽管USTR于2018年9月18日开展的关于清单二 关税的类似申请免除额外关税的程序(该清单于2018年8月23日生效,对来自中国的价值160亿美元的货物征收25%的额外关税)于2018年12月18号结束,但在并没有对清单2的豁免额外关税申请方面作出决议。同时,到目前为止,还没有关于清单3豁免额外关税申请程序的消息(在2018年9月24日生效,对来自中国的价值2000亿美元的货物征收又10%变更为25%的额外关税)。

 

 

A Discussion on the Several Highlights of the Chinese Foreign Investment Law

《外商投资法》留白的若干实务问题探讨

Written by Wei Chen, Translated and Edited by Zongtai (Tony) Zhou

本文由陈巍作 ,周宗泰翻译编辑

March 26, 2019

Overview

 

On March 15, 2019, the Foreign Investment Law was officially adopted by the second session of the 13th National People’s Congress, and will take effect on January 1, 2020.  When this new law is implemented, three current laws, commonly referred to as “the Three Foreign Investment Laws” (“The Three Laws”), will be abolished: (1) Law of the People’s Republic of China on Foreign-Capital Enterprise (“Foreign-Capital Enterprise Law”), (2) Law of the People’s Republic of China on Chinese-Foreign Equity Joint Venture (“Chinese-Foreign Equity Law”), and (3) Law of the People’s Republic of China on Chinese-Foreign Contractual Joint Ventures (“Chinese-Foreign Contractual Law”).  As a law that is marked as basis for a new era of foreign investment, it is also important to gain a comprehensive understanding of the law itself, also, in connections with other current laws in order to better navigate oneself in this imminent novel legal circumstance.

 

The Transition Period from the Chinese-Foreign Equity Law to the Company Law of the People’s Republic of China (“Company Law”)

 

According to Article 42 of the Foreign Investment Law, there is a 5-year transition period for all of those Chinese-foreign joint ventures that were built in accordance with The Three Laws, during which these companies could remain their current corporate structures.  However, since all these joint ventures will be subjected to the Company Law after The Three Laws are abolished.

 

The current joint ventures would need to redesign their management structure when the Foreign Investment Law comes in effect, since the current structure of these joint ventures would need to be reformed to accommodate the Company Law, who, under the Chinese-Foreign Equity Law, does not require a board of shareholder, where the board of director is given the highest authority.  The implementation of the new law will inevitably affect current joint ventures’ internal decision-making and management structure.  For example, the power to increase or decrease registered capital is under the jurisdiction of the board of director under the Chinese-Foreign Equity Law, and decisions need to be made with the presence of all of the board’s members, and unanimity is required to pass any motions.  However, according to the Company Law, any board resolution would only need the votes of two thirds of its shareholders/members in order to be passed.  As a result, this would further complicate the reconstruction process of these joint ventures’ internal managing, and decision-making mechanism.

 

The Definition of Foreign Investment

 

According to Article 2 of the Foreign Investment Law, foreign investment is defined as a foreign natural person, enterprise or other organization making a direct, or an indirect investment within the borders of China; and this article also set out the three ways through which these foreign investors could make their investments: (1) formation, (2) acquisition, and (3) expansion. 

 

However, the Foreign Investment Law does not define, or clarify the definition of “indirect investment”.  Often in practice, there are cases that would need further clarifications on what it means to be an indirect investment; for example, the Return Investment, where Chinese companies, or individuals who acquire oversea enterprises and establish subsidiary companies within the border of China; or, the Variable Interest Entity (VIE), where a company is held by Chinese citizens, but in practice is controlled by foreign investor(s).  As a result, there will be a series of potential confusions that need to be clarified, such as how to define a foreign investor, whether to define it based on the location of the company’s registration or on the actual controller of the company, whether or not Return Investment would be considered as foreign investment, whether or not investors from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan would be considered foreign investors, and whether or not the investment coming from a natural person who altered his/her citizenship (from a Chinese one to a foreign one, and vice versa) should be considered as foreign investment.

 

Whether a Chinese Natural Person Could Become a Shareholder in a Foreign-Capital Enterprise

 

Under the jurisdiction of the Chinese-Foreign Equity Law, and the Chinese-Foreign Contractual Law, a Chinese natural person is not allowed to establish an equity joint venture capital, or an equity contractual joint venture with foreign investor(s) (with certain exceptions, one of which would be setting up such ventures in specially authorized zones).  However, the Foreign Investment Law does not clarify the definition of Chinese investors, but only defines foreign investors as foreign natural persons, enterprises, or other organizations. 

 

Despite a definition of Chinese investors was included in the draft of the Foreign Investment Law issued in 2015, where a Chinese investor was defined as a natural person with Chinese citizenship, the Foreign Investment Law, however, does not include explicit restrictions on the extent to which a Chinese investor could participate in foreign investments.  According to the unwritten principle of feasible-until-explicitly-prohibited in the legal convention within China, from which there could be a derived implication of an optimistic prospect, in theory, for a Chinese natural person to invest in an equity joint venture, or a contractual joint venture. 

 

Transferring Capital Gains/Profit Into & Out of China

 

One of the most discussed topics among foreign investors is the one on the transferring of their capital gains/profit out of China.  According to Article 21 of the Foreign Investment Law, foreign investors are entitled to, according to applicable law(s), freely transfer their initial contribution of capital, profit, capital gains, profit from property sale, received patent fees, indemnification or subsidies from government, and income at liquidation.

 

The eye-catching word – freely – could be misleading if it is interpreted as a standalone concept out of the context of “according to applicable laws”.  According to the Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Issuing the Provisions on the Foreign Exchange Administration of Domestic Direct Investment of Foreign Investors and the Supporting Documents, foreign-capital enterprises are required to file requests to transfer their funds out of China, it is an arduous process, which includes submitting application form, relating documents to banks and other applicable governmental agencies for investigation of their authenticity, legality, and feasibility, that could be simplified.  The current system that involves multiple agencies does highlight its reliability, but it comes at the cost of efficiency, which could have a countering effect to the idea of “freely transfer” under the newly issued Foreign Investment Law.  It would, therefore, be ideal to have supplementing regulations to facilitate a more thorough, and a more comprehensive realization of this targeted level of financial flexibility and mobility for foreign-capital enterprises.

 

 

Implementation of Governmental Promises, and Foreign Investment Incentive Policies at the Local Level

 

There are numerous variables, in practice, that need to be taken into consideration when it comes to the complete realization of foreign investment in China, one of which is how to ensure the implementation of governmental promises and incentives policies suggested in the Foreign Investment Law.

 

According to the Foreign Investment Law, several incentive policies have been issued to promote foreign investment:

  • Article 18 – County-level governments or above could, according to applicable law(s), design specific incentive policies for foreign investment

  • Article 24 – Local governments could design, according to and strictly complying with applicable law(s), regulations for foreign investment

  • Article 25 – Local governments need, according to applicable law(s), to fulfill, and to honor the promises made to, contracts agreed with foreign investors; withdrawal of promised polices or agreed contracts are required to be resolved through legal procedures, and to make corresponding indemnification in strict compliance with applicable law(s).

 

In practice, foreign investors often pay particular attention to whether local government would honor the promises, rather than whether indemnification would be made.  In the scope of conventional legal practices, the keys to ensure foreign investors’ benefits are (1) to make sure promises that are made by local government do not violate or contradict any current law(s), and (2) to make sure that there are written contracts/records for any kinds of beneficial promises/agreements made between foreign investors and the liable local government.

简概

 

2019年3月15日,第十三届全国人大第二次会议通过了《中华人民共和国外商投资法》(“《外商投资法》”),该法将于2020年1月1日起实施,届时《中华人民共和国外资企业法》(“《外资企业法》”)、《中华人民共和国中外合资经营企业法》(“《合资企业法》”)和《中华人民共和国中外合作经营企业法》(合称“外资三法”)将废止。《外商投资法》对外商投资事项做出了原则性或指导性的规定,但对不少理论和实践中的热点和争议问题采取了留白处理。因此,如何解读、面对该法的留白之处,对于落实其原则、促进其与其他法律配套、在实践操作层面顺利对接等,意义重大。

 

《合资企业法》下的治理结构在过渡期如何调整

 

《外商投资法》第42条规定,按照外资三法设立的外商投资企业,在《外商投资法》施行后五年内,可以继续保留原企业组织形式等,但具体实施办法由国务院规定。《外商投资法》上述关于过渡期的原则性规定,无疑将引发关于现有合资企业治理结构变更与实践操作对接等问题的思考。

 

相较于《公司法》的规定,现有合资企业的企业组织和治理体系存在诸多特殊之处,例如合资企业不设立股东会,董事会为合资企业的最高权力机构;中外投资者一方委派董事长的,由另一方委派副董事长。《合资企业法》废止后,合资企业按照《公司法》的规定调整公司治理机构,将不可避免地对合资企业现有组织机构、议事机构设置和相关规则造成重大影响。此外,《合资企业法》下,合资企业的注册资本增加或减少属于董事会的法定职权,该等事项需经出席董事会的所有成员一致通过;而根据《公司法》的规定,该等权限将归属于股东会,仅需经公司股东三分之二有表决权的股东通过即可。在《合资企业法》废止后,该等调整将势必带来一轮中外合资方之间就公司决策和治理机制的重新谈判、妥协、甚至争议。

 

《外商投资法》虽规定了五年的过渡期,但并未对过渡期内合资企业可以保留的“原组织形式等”如何过渡予以明确界定,因其直接关系到合资企业各方的核心利益,必将成为各方重点关注问题。

如何界定外商投资

 

《外商投资法》第二条规定,外商投资指外国的自然人、企业或者其他组织直接或者间接在中国境内进行的投资活动,并列举了外商直接投资的三种方式即:新设、获取和扩大。但《外商投资法》对间接外商投资的种类并未予以明确规定,仅是通过兜底条款“法律、行政法规或者国务院规定的其他方式的投资”进行了留白处理。实践中关于外商投资界定有争议的常见情形,例如中国企业或个人通过其收购或控制的境外企业在中国拥有子公司(即返程投资),由中国企业或个人持有但由外国投资者实际控制的企业(即VIE结构),是否属于外商投资仍未予以澄清。为此,将来的配套措施需要解决的关键问题应包括:外商投资界定是按形式还是按实质?对外国投资者的判断以注册地为标准还是以“控制”为标准?返程投资是否会纳入外商投资管理的范围?对外商投资的准入是否会实施穿透管理?港澳台投资者是否属于外国投资者?自然人变更国籍后(包括外国自然人变更为中国国籍和中国公民变更为外国国籍),其对中国的投资是否属于外商投资?

 

现行实践中,存在着重形式而非实质的问题,如返程投资,实质是中国企业或个人在境外的投资,但形式上是国外企业持有,就被当成了外国企业对待;再比如,VIE结构,实质是外国公司或个人控制中国公司,形式上是中国个人持有,却享受了中国公司的待遇。界定外国投资者,除了界定标准,还是涉及不同法律部门和行政部门,如商务、市场监管、外汇等部门的协调,却非易事,但这是一个基础问题,希望有关部门尽快立法界定。

 

中国自然人是否可以成为外商投资企业的股东

 

在《合资企业法》和《合作企业法》下,中国自然人不能与外国投资者共同举办合资企业或合作企业(但某些例外情形除外,例如并购背景或国内特定区域)。在《外商投资法》下,外国投资者的范围仍然沿用和包含了“外国的自然人、企业或者其他组织”,但对中国投资者的定义并未进一步明确。

 

在2015年公布的《外国投资法草案》中,中国投资者曾被定义为包含“具有中国国籍的自然人”,当时被视为是国家将允许中国自然人与外国投资者共同创设合资企业和合作企业的先兆。

 

但是,《外商投资法》对中国投资者的范围并未作进一步限定或禁止性规定,根据法无禁止即可为的原则,可以预见中国自然人被允许投资合资企业或合作企业的可能性很大。在实践中,中国自然人投资合资企业/合作企业在内的外商投资企业将在何时以及如何放开,可能还需时日以及配套措施和政策的支持。

 

收益自由汇出如何“依法”实现

 

外国投资者重点关注的问题之一是外国投资者汇出其依法所得收益的规定。《外商投资法》第二十一条规定,“外国投资者在中国境内的出资、利润、资本收益、资产处置所得、知识产权许可使用费、依法获得的补偿或者赔偿、清算所得等,可以依法以人民币或者外汇自由汇入、汇出”。

 

由于该条规定使用了“自由”汇出的字眼,不少外国投资者理解为其收益可以没有约束地兑换成外汇汇出。该解读忽略了本条规定中“依法”的含义,所谓“依法”,按现行法律,就是指外国投资者经过合法审批或登记后,汇入其出资和汇出其收益。

 

根据国家外汇管理局2013年颁布的《外国投资者境内直接投资外汇管理规定》,外商投资企业办理外汇业务(例如利润、知识产权使用费汇出)需提交申请材料,且银行将对外商投资企业所提交的申请材料进行真实性、一致性审核。在实践操作中,办理利润汇出,银行会核查公司完税证明、审计报告、批准分红的董事会决议等。

 

在现有管理体系下,外国投资者在汇出其合法收益时,要分别履行税务、银行、外汇主管机构多个机构的手续,确实存在着不便利之处。希望《外商投资法》实施后,相关权力机关会配套颁布更多的便利外商投资企业资金自由汇出的相关措施,以进一步兑现该法提出的“自由”汇出原则。

 

地方优惠政策与承诺如何兑现?

 

外商投资落地中国需要考虑多种因素,地方政府的优惠政策和承诺是投资者选择投资地不可忽视的重要因素之一。《外商投资法》明确了有关地方政府制定和履行优惠政策的原则:

 

●县级以上人民政府可以依法在法定权限内制定优惠政;

●地方政府制定外商投资规范性文件,应符合法律规定,且不得低于或减损法律的规定;

●地方政府和部门应当履行依法作出的承诺和签订的合同;

●改变承诺和合同约定应是因国家利益和社会公共利益所需,且须根据法定程序进行;

●如果改变承诺和合同约定的,应补偿外国投资者和外商投资企业的损失。

投资优惠政策出自地方政府,实践中,外国投资者最关注的是地方政府的承诺是否能够兑现,如果不兑现是否有救济措施。结合我国的司法实践,保障外国投资者在优惠政策的权益关键在于:地方行政允诺是否违反法律禁止性规定;投资方应与地方政府部门签订与优惠政策相关的书面协议。

 

《外商投资法》是一部特定历史时期的基础性法律,难免搁置一些问题,有关各方积极参与探讨留白的问题,将促进该法相关配套法规的建设和完善。我们期盼监管机构尽快颁布具体的具体法规和实施办法,明确实践中的疑难问题、为新旧法律更替期间外商投资企业的设立、经营提供指引。此外,我们建议中外投资者密切关注国家将发布的配套法规和规章,并仔细审视现有的法律关系,提前作出相应的准备,平稳的度过过渡期。