The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments involving corporate responsibility of a foreign corporation (Royal Dutch Shell) under the Alien Tort Statute for cooperating with foreign government (Nigeria) torture in contravention of human rights law. The Obama administration argues there is corporate responsibility of a corporation under international law. The defending oil company contends that corporations are not subject to international human rights restrictions, as to allow an alien to sue it in the United States under the statute. Conservative jurists are generally opposed to finding in favor of international law or international legal claims.” Court Wary of Torture Cases.” Wall Street Journal (2.29.12)
Director-General Pascal Lamy recently stated that unlike in previous global economic downturns, “there had been a significant decline in initiations of new (anti-dumping) investigations, from 213 in 2008 down to 153 in 2011.” “Significant Decline in Anti-Dumping Investigations.” WTO News (February 27, 2012).
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been aggressive in trying to change the foreign corruption law (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) to include a “compliance defense” in criminal proceedings. Others have argued that nothing should be done to make the U.S. less than a leader, as it is now, in the ethical conduct of international business. “Bribing Foreign Officials.” Washington Post (2.27.12).
The U.S. Dept. of Justice recently experienced a defeat in one foreign bribery case (FCPA) concerning Gabon and a victory in another case (plea agreement) concerning Nigeria. The USDOJ has been very aggressive in pursuing commercial bribery of foreign officials, but its trial tactics might need to be improved a bit. “Bribery Case Falls Apart.”New York Times (Feb. 23, 2012) and “Foreign Bribery and Kickback Schemes.” US Dept. of Justice News (Feb. 23, 2012).
A free-trade economist and critic of President Obama’s trade policies lists his various grievances: the President’s criticism of outsourcing while promoting domestic manufacturing; the President’s rejectionist policies concerning Doha; the President promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership in lieu of Doha and against China; the President has “surrendered to the manufacturing fetish. ”Obama Panders on Trade.” Financial Times (Feb. 7, 2012).
Two Japanese suppliers of auto electrical components agreed to plea guilty in an international antitrust price-fixing case and to pay the second largest criminal fine ever ($548m). Four executives have also agreed to serve prison time. “Yazaki Corp Plead Guilty to Price-Fixing.” U.S. DOJ News (January 30, 2012).
The WTO Appellate Body ruled in favor of the U.S. upholding most of the panel’s recommendation concerning the inconsistency of China’s restrictions on export of various raw materials. These restrictions include among other — export quotas, minimum export price, and licensing requirements. The AB viewed these restrictions as artificially increasing world prices and lowering prices for Chinese products. “U.S. Victory on Raw Material Export Restraints.” USTR Release (January 30, 2012). “AB Issues Report on Material Disputes.” WTO News (January 30, 2012).
The U.S. has agreed to stop using the “zeroing methodology” in antidumping disputes, in an agreement signed with the EU and Japan, that avoids WTO authorized sanctions. “Solution to Zeroing Disputes.” USTR News (Feb. 6, 2012).
The EU is risking a new trade war by its imposition of a carbon tax on foreign airlines flying into and out of Europe. This is viewed as a form of “Euro-imperialism.” “Europe’s Carbon Trade War.” Wall Street Journal (Feb. 8, 2012).