USA: Post-Election Analysis on Cross-Border Trade, International Sanctions

Baker Botts lawyers provide a post-election analysis of the impact the presidential election will have on international trade, U.S. and EU trade policies, and issues companies should watch with Russia, Iran, and Cuba sanctions. 

International Trade Policy - Matthew West, partner and Global Projects Department Chair in the D.C. office. 

“During the Presidential election, Mr. Trump made a number of statements about the United States’ international trade policies and broadly what he thought needed to be done to fix them. In making sweeping statements - ranging from imposing import duties on automobiles made in Mexico to repudiating the Iran nuclear deal - Mr. Trump provided few real details on how he would implement these changes.” 

“Now with the election over, the question is what will be the real trade related priorities for President-elect Trump once he is sworn in, and how can those priorities be implemented legally. In many cases, a President Trump will find that his campaign rhetoric will run up against real legal and diplomatic hurdles.” 

U.S. Trade Policy and Cuba Sanctions - Ama Adams, partner in the Washington, D.C., office. 

“On trade agreements and treaties, President-elect Trump has called for significant changes to U.S. trade policy. Some of his campaign promises include imposing high tariffs on Chinese imports, pulling out of the WTO and renegotiating or withdrawing from NAFTA. U.S. trade law permits the President to take certain actions to suspend or withdraw from trade agreements and to impose duties or other import restrictions without congressional approval. If, as President, Trump follows through on these pledges, there would be tremendous uncertainty for U.S. businesses trying to navigate around significant changes, including how to adapt their international supply chain networks to deal with higher-priced imports.” 

“During his campaign, the President-elect was critical of the Obama Administration’s decision to shift towards a normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations, including the easing of some U.S. sanctions. It is possible that the new Administration could reverse current law that allows for and supports the export of certain telecommunications items, agricultural items, civil aviation equipment and items in support of Cuba’s private sector.” 

Russia and Iran Sanctions - Ginger Faulk, partner in the Washington, D.C., office. 

“The election of Trump may have major implications for U.S. sanctions laws and policies, particularly with respect to Russia and Iran. U.S. sanctions against Russia currently target the defense and finance sectors, as well as certain types of upstream oil and gas development and production projects.” 

“President-elect Trump has stated that he would consider lifting or relaxing those sanctions. Trump also opposes the Iran nuclear deal implemented earlier this year and could undo aspects of that deal that have opened doors for increased investment in Iran by overseas companies. Sanctions enforcement priorities of the Trump Administration are unknown at present and could differ dramatically from those of the current Administration particularly as his personnel decisions are finalized.” 

U.S. and EU Trade Negotiations - Neil Foster, partner in the London office. 

“The U.S. and EU have been trying unsuccessfully to negotiate a trade deal for 28 years. However, once the UK triggers the exit mechanism from the EU, a bilateral trade deal between the U.S. and the UK would be possible for the first time since the 1970s. While President Obama said that post-Brexit, the UK is at the back of the queue, President-elect Trump does not appear to hold a similar view.” 

“This next President will have an opportunity to enter into trade talks with the UK; afterall, Mr. Trump owns businesses in the UK and so is very familiar with its economy. He may also find it rather easier to negotiate with one country, rather than with the EU where every country has input into trade deals.” 

European Commission’s Anti-Dumping Plan - Georg Berrisch, Head of Baker Botts’ European Trade Practice and partner in the Brussels office. 

"By coincidence, the European Commission announced its plans to reform the EU's anti-dumping plan and countervailing duty instruments the day after Mr. Trump was elected. These reforms were triggered by the upcoming expiry of certain special rules governing anti-dumping investigations into imports from China. The aim is to ensure that the EU can continue to effectively protect EU industries, in a WTO compliant manner against imports from China and other countries where markets are distorted due to state intervention.” 

“Hopefully, the Council and the European Parliament will adopt these rules quickly as otherwise there will be legal uncertainty for EU industries. While the timing was coincidental, the election of Mr. Trump may effect EU trade defence policy and practice. For example, if Mr. Trump follows through on his announcement of aggressive trade defence measures against China, this will likely lead to trade diversion to the EU. It is important that the EU be in a position to react efficiently should that happen. 


Baker Botts’ International Trade Group, based in its Washington, Brussels and London offices, maintains an active and diverse practice advising clients on complying with U.S., EU and other government regulations that affect the cross-border movement of goods, technology, services and investment. The group advises both U.S. and international clients on the applicability of various international trade regulations and laws.