Treasury Amends Burmese Sanctions Regulations, Identifies Blocked Companies Owned By Designated Persons, And Delists Several Burmese State-Owned Entities

Today, OFAC added a general license authorizing transactions related to U.S. individuals residing in Burma, extended and expanded an existing general license authorizing trade-related transactions, and updated an existing general license authorizing certain banking services.  As background, an OFAC license is an authorization to engage in a transaction that otherwise would be prohibited.  There are two types of licenses: general licenses and specific licenses.  A general license broadly authorizes a particular type of transaction, subject to certain conditions, without the need to individually apply for a specific license.

 

Please visit the link below for the full update:

https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0458.aspx

Chinese aviation giant HNA bids for London airport

HNA Group, the Chinese aviation and shipping conglomerate, and a consortium led byOntario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and Borealis Infrastructure, are in the lead to buyLondon City Airport from its United States owners, according to sources close to the potentialdeal.

The central London airport, owned by Global Infrastructure Partners, could fetch more than 2billion pounds ($2.8 billion).

The companies have been asked to submit another round of bids on Wednesday, and GIPhas not chosen a winner, two of the sources said, adding Cheung Kong InfrastructureHoldings Ltd is also still interested in bidding.

The airport, located about 10 kilometers from London’s financial district and opened in 1987, was bought by American International Group Inc and GIP in 2006.

At the time, reports said the companies agreed to pay 750 million pounds, though terms werenot disclosed. Two years later, American International sold its stake to GIP and HighstarCapital, which now owns 25 percent.

Any deal would add to the $22.7 billion of airport-related acquisitions already completed overthe past 12 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Spokesmen for GIP, PSP and Borealis declined to comment. Representatives for OntarioTeachers’ Pension and CKI did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while amedia representative for HNA said she could not immediately comment.

The winning bidder will have to come to terms with ongoing political wranglings that stand inthe way of a planned expansion that would help City Airport serve 6.5 million passengers ayear by 2023. London Mayor Boris Johnson vetoed the 250-million-pound plan to add aircraftstands, an arrivals terminal and taxiway last year.

Flights from City Airport carried 3.6 million passengers in 2014, according to the operation’sannual report, a 7.9 percent increase from the year before.

HNA, which controls China’s fourth-largest carrier, Hainan Airlines Co Ltd, last month boughta stake in Uber China Ltd and completed its acquisition of aircraft lessor Avolon Holdings Ltdfor $7.6 billion including debt.

Last week, its shipping affiliate announced a $6.1 billion takeover offer for California-basedsoftware distributor Ingram Micro Inc.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2016-02/26/content_23649126.htm

China’s Belt and Road Initiative to boost civil aviation in Africa

DUBAI – China’s Belt and Road Initiative will bring more Chinese investment and Asian passengers to Africa, African civil aviation officials said on Sunday. 

Speaking to Xinhua on the sidelines of the Aviation Africa 2015 summit, Ms Dzifa Aku Attivor, Ghana’s transport minister, said her country welcome additional Chinese engagement in Africa’s underdeveloped civil aviation market. 

She said Africa stands for 12 percent of the world’s total population but only one percent of the global aviation market. 

Ghana is open for business, and welcomes any initiative that can connect Asia with the rest of the world, including the Belt and Road Initiative, which was put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, she said.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2015-05/11/content_20679300.htm

FAA Streamlines UAS COAs for Section 333

Flights at or below 200 feet to any UAS operator with a Section 333 exemption for aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds, operate during daytime Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions, operate within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the pilots, and stay certain distances away from airports or heliports:

  • 5 nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower; or
  • 3 NM from an airport with a published instrument flight procedure, but not an operational tower; or
  • 2 NM from an airport without a published instrument flight procedure or an operational tower; or
  • 2 NM from a heliport with a published instrument flight procedure

See full article here:

http://www.faa.gov/news/updates/?newsId=82245

India’s export growth slows to three-year low

India’s merchandise exports in February plunged 15 percent from a year earlier to $21.5 billion, following an 11.2 percent decrease in January, marking the lowest value in three years, according to provisional figures released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Imports fell even more steeply, contracting 15.7 percent from February 2014 to $28.4 billion.  As a result, India’s monthly trade imbalance with the rest of the world narrowed to a 17-month low, at $6.9 billion.

“The continuous double digit decline in exports both in January and February makes us apprehensive about reaching even $320 billion in exports in fiscal year 2014-15,” said Rafeeque Ahmed, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations, in a statement.

“Indian exporters are losing out particularly to China, which has fixed exchange rate against euro and other currencies, while Indian rupee is fast fluctuating except against the U.S. dollar. This partly explains a 48 percent growth in China’s exports in February.”

From April through February, India’s overall exports totaled $286.6 billion, improving slightly from $284 billion for the same period in the previous fiscal year.  Imports for the 11-month period amounted to $412 billion, up from $409 billion, with cumulative trade deficit remaining nearly flat year-over-year, at $125.4 billion.

With just a month left for the current fiscal year, which runs from April to March, and slowing growth trends, New Delhi’s annual export target of $340 billion looks well out of reach.

“Even though trade deficit has shrunk, double-digit decline in exports for the past two consecutive months is a cause of worry.  It is an indication that we would not be able to achieve this year’s export target,” said Arbind Prasad, director general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

FIEO expects the federal government to announce major incentives in the new five-year foreign trade policy to be released shortly, to rejuvenate the export sector.  “This will go a long way in reversing the declining trend in our exports.”

http://www.joc.com/international-trade-news/indias-export-growth-slows-three-year-low_20150316.html

New Guangdong FTZ set to boost investment

The newly approved Guangdong Pilot Free Trade Zone will offer preferential policies for investment from the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao, according to a top provincial official.The zone, covering an area of more than 116.2 square kilometers, will include the district of Nansha in Guangzhou, Hengqin New Area in Zhuhai, and Qianhai and Shekou areas in Shenzhen.”The FTZ will further open up to Hong Kong and Macao investors under the CEPA (Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement) framework,” said by Zhu Xiaodan, governor of Guangdong province

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2015-03/13/content_19800235.htm

Capital account opened’ for firms in free trade zone

The long-anticipated detailed rules for capital-account transactions, which will allowcompanies operating in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone to borrow abroad undera simpler regulatory regime, have been released.

The new process may help FTZ-registered companies cut their financing costs in half.

The announcement of the rules on Thursday means that the capital-account has effectivelybeen opened for companies in the FTZ, said Zhang Xin, deputy head of the Shanghai HeadOffice of the People’s Bank of China.

The rules will allow FTZ-registered enterprises that borrow abroad to choose the length andcurrency of the loan.

FTZ-registered enterprises that seek financing overseas will be monitored by the PBOCduring and after the financing process, but they will no longer need to seek prior approval.

“The detailed rules actually return many rights and initiatives to enterprises, enabling them tomake their own financing decisions, while regulators just help to monitor the risks,” saidZhang.

“The new rules will benefit enterprises when doing foreign trade and overseas mergers. Thenew rules significantly reduce the time needed for completing the procedures, which could beas short as half an hour.”

“For a one-year yuan-denominated loan, the financing cost could be half of what it used tobe,” said Wang Jianxin, head of the FTZ branch of Shanghai Pudong Development Bank CoLtd.

The banking regulators promised a freer environment for financing to support foreign tradeafter the FTZ opened in September 2013.

Financial and nonfinancial enterprises registered in the FTZ will be able to borrow up to twicetheir capital base, which will be double the previous cap.

“For trading firms like us, the new rules have given us more freedom and space to obtain thefinancing that suits us best,” said Zhang Lei, finance director of an FTZ-registered wine trader.

The more liberal financial policies in the FTZ have already helped companies registered therereduce their financing costs.

PBOC data showed that so far, 120 overseas yuan-denominated financing deals with acombined value of 19.7 billion yuan ($3.2 billion) have been arranged.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2015-02/17/content_19610242.htm

The World Needs New Rules for Armed Drones

New data shows how armed drones are proliferating around the world and why international standards to govern them are overdue.

Before 9/11, the United States had only a tiny number of experimental drones that were never used in combat. The 9/11 attacks and the wars they engendered changed this. Today there are more than 7,000 American drones, some 200 of which are armed and which have killed thousands of people.

But the virtual monopoly on drones that the U.S. once enjoyed is long gone.According to data collected by New America, there are 85 countries that have some sort of drone capability, both armed and unarmed.

So far only three countries have used armed drones in conflict, the United States, Israel, and the United Kingdom. But other countries are arming drones and it’s only a matter of time before one of these countries will deploy them in combat.

Now, the United States is even going to start allowing the sale of American armed drones to foreign countries. On Feb. 17, the State Department announced the new policy that would allow certain, friendly governments to make purchases of armed drones from the United States if they agreed to a series of commitments, such as only using the drones when there’s a lawful basis to do so.

The State Department said that the United States has a “responsibility to ensure that sales, transfers and subsequent use of all U.S.-origin UAS [unmanned aerial systems or drones] are responsible and consistent with U.S. national security and foreign policy interests…as well as with U.S. values and international standards.”

An example of other countries contemplating the use of drones in ways that could be inconsistent with U.S. values and international standards already exists, it came in 2013 when a state-run newspaper reported that the Chinese government had mulled the possibility of using armed drones to kill Naw Kham, a drug lord based in neighboring Myanmar who had murdered a group of Chinese sailors.

In the end, China decided to capture the drug lord instead of killing him in a drone strike, but it showed that the Chinese have this capacity and may be willing to use it, including in countries outside of China.

Other countries are also arming drones — and have been for a couple of years now. In 2013, a Russian government website showed photographs of armed drones that were supposedly scheduled to begin test flights in 2014 (although, later the manufacturer moved the prototype release date back to 2018).

A year earlier the Iranians plausibly claimed they were building a new long-range drone that can fly 2,000 kilometers (about 1,250 miles), which puts Israel in range.

India has also started an armed drone program.

Why are these countries all getting into the armed drone business? Drones are far cheaper than buying or manufacturing fighter jets and training fighter pilots. U.S.Reaper drones cost $12 million each, while the F-22 fighter costs around ten times that amount.

This helps account for why a Virginia-based defense consulting firm, the Teal Group, estimated in 2013 that the global market for drones will almost double in the next decade, from $6.6 billion annually to $11.4 billion a year. And a 2011 study found that there were around 680 active drone development programs run by governments, companies and research institutes around the world, compared with only 195 six years earlier.

According to New America’s research, 78 countries have drones with only surveillance capabilities.

Israel is the world’s largest exporter of drones and drone technology. New America found that Israel has sold drones and drone technology to 38 countries, ranging from Angola to Chile, Serbia, Thailand and the United States.

Armed drones aren’t limited to use by nation states only. Hezbollah, the militant Shiite group based in Lebanon, reportedly used drones to bomb a building used by al-Qaeda in Syria in September.

A month earlier, the Islamic State, or ISIS, uploaded a video to YouTube that showed surveillance footage of a Syrian Army military base that was shot by a drone.

Of the 85 countries with drones, 62 of them produce the drones domestically, meaning only 23 nations are wholly dependent on importing drone technology. That number will most likely change drastically in the coming years as the technology becomes more cost efficient and easier to make.

With all these changes and the proliferation of drones continuing at a steady pace, the idea of the United States asking countries to abide by “U.S. national security and foreign policy interests” in their “subsequent use of all U.S.-origin” drones is not a long-term solution to shape a rapidly changing environment.

Instead, international standards need to be put in place for drone use that governs both state and non-state actors and would govern the use, sale and transfer of these valuable weapons. While the Missile Technology Control Regime, orMTCR, seeks to place limits on weapons such as drones — including ballistic missiles, cruise missiles — by placing export controls on its member states, it’s only been joined by 34 countries and it’s limitations are optional, not binding under international law. Countries like Iran, North Korea and Pakistan, who are not member states, continue to deploy and sell weapons that the MTCR is trying to limit.

The United States has sold or given weapons to countries in the past, only to have those arms fall into enemy combatants’ hands. The Islamic State is the most timely example of this; they’ve managed to not only intercept U.S. arms drops meant for Kurdish fighters, but also taking Iraqi military bases and equipment that was provided for them by the United States, including U.S.-donated M113s, an armored personnel carrier, and an M1 Abrams tank.

http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2015/02/world-needs-new-rules-armed-drones/105933/?oref=defenseone_today_nl

 

Introduction to ITDS in AES

The purpose of this email message is to alert filers in the Automated Export System (AES) to be on the lookout for new AES functionality that will be communicated to you in the next year. This communication will allow AES filers to prepare for new reporting requirements in AES as a result of AES being a critical component of the International Trade Data System (ITDS) “single window” concept for exports.

 

On February 19, 2014, the President of the United States signed the executive order on STREAMLINING THE EXPORT/IMPORT PROCESS FOR AMERICA’S BUSINESSES. The order established policy principles and an implementation plan for the development of the ITDS by December 2016, and to improve supply chain processes and identification of illicit shipments.

 

The ITDS will allow businesses to continue to transmit in the AES the transactional data required by dozens of U.S. executive departments and agencies for the exportation of cargo. In doing so, the platform on which AES resides will be the system for the export data exchange (or “single-window”). Although AES is currently mandatory to meet the export reporting requirements of the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Industry and Security, and the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, businesses will soon be able to submit data in AES to satisfy requirements of other agencies that currently require reporting on paper.  The ITDS single window concept will improve the costly and time-consuming process by allowing businesses to submit electronic data one time in AES.

 

The modernized information communication infrastructure provided by the ITDS will also enable improvements to current logistics and border management processes which would, in turn, simplify the export process and facilitate enforcement of U.S. trade, security, safety, and environmental laws. Agencies will have authorized access to accurate and timely electronic export data to better orchestrate reviews and develop common risk-management policies and systems. In addition, businesses will also have authorized access to their own data through the “single window” for recordkeeping and to ensure compliance.

 

As the new functionality is introduced, we will strive to provide timely email messages that will provide a narrative of the new functionality, links to appropriate websites for programming instructions, and dates when testing or pilots will be available. In the coming months ahead, be on the lookout for messages describing the following:

 

    • The new electronic reporting capability for Environmental Protection Agency-regulated Hazardous Waste Exports
    • U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s new electronic reporting capability for Automated Outbound Manifests
    • Other Government Agencies’ electronic reporting capabilities for regulated export items

 

For more information about the International Trade Data System and copies of these fact sheets, visit http://www.itds.gov/xp/itds/tsn/index.html If you have questions, please contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Automated Commercial Environment Communication Team via email at AskACE@cbp.dhs.gov.

US, Canada Reach Key Funding Deal for Detroit-Windsor Bridge

The Obama administration and Canada have agreed on financing a key piece of a planned $2.1 billion bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, the two governments announced Wednesday.

The agreement involves a funding mechanism for a toll plaza on the U.S. side of the international crossing, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. It says a “public-private partnership” will pay for the plaza’s construction, with reimbursement from bridge tolls.

Both governments have said the new bridge will create thousands of jobs and further stimulate the $658 billion annual trade between the nations.

“This agreement clears one of the final hurdles to building this hugely important bridge. Both Michigan and the entire nation will benefit,” U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich., said in a statement.

Authorities have said the limited capacity of the 85-year-old Ambassador Bridge and the 85-year-old Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, which is too tight for tractor-trailers, is an increasing impediment to trade.

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow called Wednesday’s deal “a critical step forward” for the project, long stymied by opposition from owners of the nearby Ambassador Bridge who seek to add a new span of their own across the Detroit River. That opposition has blocked the needed U.S. funding for the plaza. The bridge itself already was to be built without U.S. funds.

Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said the agreement ensures “that the new publicly owned bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan, can proceed without further delay” and that the project “will ultimately be delivered through a public-private partnership.”

U.S. lawmakers said it remains crucial for the Obama administration and Congress to appropriate the funds that will be needed to operate the U.S. Customs plaza.

Officials have said they hope to open the bridge in 2020.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a supporter of the new bridge, said he “will continue to encourage the U.S. government to provide the necessary resources to fund U.S. customs facilities” at the bridge and at the Blue Water Bridge that links Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario, about 55 miles north-northeast of Detroit.

Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun had paid for a campaign to get a proposal on the November 2012 Michigan ballot seeking to block any new cross-border bridges or tunnels without holding a referendum first. Voters defeated the proposal.

The Associated Press left a message Wednesday seeking comment from the Moroun family-owned Detroit International Bridge Co. The company’s website includes statements and videos criticizing the new crossing.

“The best outcome is to continue with the success that we as a region have had with southeastern Michigan border crossings for the last 80 years, especially with the Ambassador Bridge, where no taxpayer resources or government resources have been used whatsoever,” Vice Chairman Matthew Moroun, vice chairman of the family-owned Detroit International Bridge Co., says on the site.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/us-canada-agree-key-piece-detroit-windsor-bridge-29060012