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The International Legal Environment of Business. Chapter 22. Internati on al Issues. International Law and Business International Trade Agreements U.S. Import Policy Business Structures in Foreign Markets Foreign Corrupt Practices Act International Contracts

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Internati on al issues
International Issues

  • International Law and Business

  • International Trade Agreements

  • U.S. Import Policy

  • Business Structures in Foreign Markets

  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

  • International Contracts

  • International Dispute Resolution

The international business environment
The International Business Environment

  • Includes all business transactions that involve entities from two or more countries

    • Movement of goods across countries

    • Movement of services across countries

    • Issues regarding capital

    • Issues regarding personnel of multinational enterprises

Risks of international business transactions
Risks of International Business Transactions

  • Financial

  • Political

  • Regulatory

  • All stem from differences in

    • Currencies

    • Language

    • Customs

    • Legal systems

    • Social philosophies

    • Government policies

Origins of international law
Origins of International Law

  • Commercial codes date back to Egypt in 1400 B.C.

  • Early trade centered around law of the sea

  • Greek/ Roman Empires both had codes of international trade

  • Middle Ages: Lex Mercatoria (Merchant Law) – Governed trading customs in Europe

  • Today’s codes still partly derived from early efforts

Sources of international law
Sources of International Law

  • Individual countries create their own laws

  • Trade agreements between countries

  • Worldwide/regional organizations, i.e.

    • United Nations

    • European Union (EU)

  • No universal international court system for resolving international conflicts of businesses

  • Difficult to enforce decisions and contracts

  • See Exhibit 22.1: Selected Organizations Affecting the International Legal Environment

International trade agreements
International Trade Agreements

  • Improve economic relations of countries

  • Cover variety of commercial issues

  • Tax agreements prevent double taxation

  • Examples:

    • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA, 1992) Canada/US/Mexico

      • Regional treaty

    • General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade (GATT) replaced in 1995 by World Trade Organization (WTO)

      • International Treaty

      • WTO has authority to investigate & rule on government subsidies that give unfair advantage to a producer in a given country

U s import policy limits on imports to protect domestic interests taxes on imports

Tariffs (duties) – Taxes imposed by a government on imported goods

specific tariffs: fixed duties on products

ad valorem tariffs: % of price of product

See Issue Spotter: “Starting an Import Business”

Harmonized TariffSchedules – standardized, worldwide classification of goods for customs officials

Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS)

Each country uses same codes

Bans on Certain Products – i.e. weapons, illegal products, narcotics, national security concerns, products made from endangered species

U.S. Import Policy(Limits on Imports – To Protect Domestic Interests)(Taxes on Imports)

Import controls
Import Controls

  • In U.S. – Dept. of Commerce through International Trade Administration (ITA) & International Trade Commission (ITC).

  • Some imports are prohibited for safety or environmental reasons.

  • Antidumping Orders:When there is charging a lower price in an export market than in a home market. Duty is determined by comparing market price in home market vs. price charge in U.S. When item is imported, then duty is applied to product.

  • Duties on Governmental Subsidies:Tariff applied to offset subsidies provided by foreign governments to their industries that lower prices of products imported into the U.S. Duty applied is = to foreign governmental subsidy. (Purpose: To assist U.S. products to be competitive in the U.S. market)(counterveiling duties).

  • Foreign Trade Zones: Goods imported without paying tariffs. Goods then processed. Duties assessed upon leaving zone.

  • Duty Free Ports: No duties or tariffs assessed on products, i.e. Hong Kong.

Penalty provisions for violation of commerce s licensing provisions
Penalty Provisions for Violation of Commerce’s Licensing Provisions

  • Include criminal and civil penalties

  • Can also have administrative sanctions

  • If an exporter “knowingly” violates the Export Administration Act, there can be fines up to $50,000 per violation.

  • Person who “willfully” violates the Act, can be fined more and receive up to 20 years in prison, with a possible suspension or revocation of a business’s authority to export.

  • Example: McDonnell Douglas paid $2.1 million fine for improper sale of sensitive equipment to China.

Foreign manufacturing

Wholly Owned Subsidiary Licensing Provisions

Business owns the facilities – some countries limit % of ownership

Joint Venture

Sharing ownership with foreign partners

Licensing Agreement

Licensor grants licensee access to patents and technologies

Franchise Agreement

Franchisor grants franchisee the rights to sell products or services, i.e. McDonald’s, Hertz

Contract Manufacturing

Contract made for production of products

Issues to Consider

Labor expenses

Shipping costs

Raw material costs

Avoid restrictions/tariffs

Pirating of technology

Foreign Manufacturing

U s the foreign corrupt practices act fcpa 1977
U.S.: The Foreign Corrupt Licensing ProvisionsPractices Act (FCPA) 1977

  • Punishment of payer of bribe to foreign officials

  • “Corrupt” person displays reckless or conscious disregard for consequences of one’s actions

  • Accounting provisions require practices to track transactions

  • Payer knows payment will go to public official

    • “Any reasonable person would have realized”

      • Requirement: Keeping accounts. Internal controls. Need paper trail.

    • “Consciously chose not to ask about what he/she had reason to believe would be discovered”

    • “Simple negligence” or “mere foolishness” exception

  • “Routine governmental action” exception: “facilitating or expediting payment . . . the purpose of which is to expedite or secure the performance of a “routine governmental action.” (i.e. visas, providing basic utilities, transportation services, etc. – small amount and very limited usage)

  • In 2006 Congress ratified theUN Convention Against Corruptionto bring international cooperation to corruption enforcement practices.

Punishments under fcpa
Punishments Under FCPA Licensing Provisions

  • Individuals: Maximum of $100,000 & 5 years in jail

  • Corporation: Up to $2,000,000/violation

  • Exception: Department of Justice “pre-deal interpretation”

  • Watch: “Slush funds” or “salaries, commissions or fees” disproportionate to service provided

Financial aspects of international contracts
Financial Aspects of International Contracts Licensing Provisions

  • Exchange Markets

  • Use of Letters of Credit: Assurance by bank of buyer to pay seller upon receipt of documents that prove goods were shipped and contract was fulfilled

    • Revocable or Irrevocable

  • Transfer Pricing

    • Multinational firm sells goods from division located in one county to a division in the U.S.

    • Must determine price, but because it is within the firm, there is no “market price” to use

    • Firm creates an artificial price

    • Practice called transfer pricing

    • IRS guidelines as to what it considers “reasonable” for taxing purposes

    • Different countries exchange controls – can affect decision where to locate assets

  • Repatriation of Profits

International contracts
International Licensing Provisions Contracts

  • Cultural Aspects

    • Language, attitudes toward relationships different in different countries

  • Payment Clauses & Exchange Rates

  • Choice of Language Clause

  • Force Majeure Clauses

  • Choice-of-Law Clauses

    • Selection of Which Laws Apply

  • Forum Selection Clause

    • Selection of Court

      See Exhibit 22.5: Major Clauses Used in Many International Contracts

Loss of investment political upheavals unstable monetary systems changes in laws

Nationalization Licensing Provisions: Gov’t “nationalizes” entire industry, including foreign investment

Gov’t may pay less than value

i.e. Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and England

Expropriation: Taking foreign property in accordance with international law

Confiscation: Taking is unlawful

Insuring Against Risk of Loss

Short-term private insurers

Major insurers (i.e. Lloyds of London)

Gov’t agencies (i.e. Overseas Private Investment Corporation [OPIC]) insures investors who invest in less developed countries

Loss of Investment(Political Upheavals, Unstable Monetary Systems, Changes in Laws)

International dispute resolution

Litigation Licensing Provisions

Differs within countries

Complication of evidence, witnesses and documents

Judicial system may be different from country to country

Some courts more influenced by political pressures

Not enforceable outside of country

Treaties/Conventions may assist potential parties

Contract clauses assist courts in enforcement of claims

Usually need “minimum contacts” for jurisdiction

International Court of Justice (ICJ)

Only nations have standing - not individuals

Nations may make claims on behalf of persons

No mandatory compliance requirement

UN Security Council must enforce

Arbitration: 3rd neutral party decides outcome, which is binding

Mediation: 3rd neutral party “suggests” outcome, which is not binding

International Dispute Resolution

Doctrine of sovereign immunity and doctrine of act of state

Act of State Licensing Provisions

Court gives up right of jurisdiction over foreign country or representative

Court will barcompensation because the acts were by a foreign government or representative

Sovereign Immunity

Bar to compensation by foreign investors

Immunity to foreign representative or country

One country must respect the independence of other countries and their representatives

In U.S.: Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act

Doctrine of Sovereign Immunityand Doctrine of Act of State