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President Trump’s appointments, policies, Executive Orders and shipping

President Trump’s appointments, policies, Executive Orders and shipping
The start of the US Presidency of Donald Trump has been anything but business as usual and understanding the implications of his Executive Orders is rapidly turning into a full time job for some.

Though a Trump presidency promises rollbacks of regulations generally - indeed one of Trump’s “Executive Orders” signaled a rollback of new burdensome regulations, lost in the glare of more controversial announcements - there will be no shortage of issues for the lawyers in New York and Washington DC to decipher the implications of for their clients.

Two firms, Holland & Knight (H&K) and Blank Rome, have posted their online takes on what might happen with the new administration, while a third firm, Seward & Kissel, was interviewed. Almost all who have commented agrees on the salutary impacts of Cabinet members Rex Tillerson – Secretary of State, Elaine Chao - Transportation Secretary, and Wilbur Ross - Secretary of Commerce. Though it’s early days, H&K says: “At the very least, Holland & Knight's discussions with key transition leaders and members suggest that the US maritime industry, including ports and terminals, will be a part of the infrastructure investment discussion.”

Also at Cabinet level, Blank Rome opines that: “The appointment of Gen. John Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security may also indicate an expanded role for the Coast Guard… [he] understands the value and importance of the Coast Guard maritime law enforcement efforts in US counter-drug interdiction in the southern border approaches, and has advocated for more resources for the Coast Guard in the past.”

Insiders in Washington shine particularly when discussing the impacts of movements along the rungs below Cabinet level. Blank Rome adds: “The appointment of Robert Lighthizer as chief trade negotiator, a Washington lawyer known for leading roles in key antidumping and countervailing duty trade remedy cases, signals the Trump administration’s intention to take a tough stance on trade with China and other global partners.”

H&K highlights a potential cargo preference wrinkle worth watching, as the prospects brighten for more LNG exports: “For their part, Democrats have taken steps suggesting that they will pursue additional provisions, such as a proposal by Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) to reserve hydrocarbon exports to US-flag shipping.”

Another major concern for shipping people is the issue of sanctions. Seatrade Maritime News spoke to Bruce Paulsen, Partner in the Maritime Group at Seward & Kissel, whose firm gives advice to clients on US sanctions affecting Cuba, Russia, Iran and other countries. From a legal standpoint, he explained that the sanctions have legal force- they are put in place by acts of Congress, which, in the case of Cuba, go back decades to the Kennedy years.

Paulsen said: “The sanctions are laws, still on the books, but were ‘lifted’ by Executive Orders from President Obama.” Noting that President Obama, a Democrat, had difficulties enacting laws because of opposition from the Republican legislature, he said: “The modifications, for example the lifting of the 180-day rule for Cuban port calls, and the lifting of secondary sanctions on Iran - where foreign companies could not place insurance through New York, for example - were all done through Executive Orders while the original legislation stayed in place.”

The bottom line is that the new President could issue his own Executive Order, rescinding those of President Obama, which would have the effect of putting the sanctions back into place.

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