Digital information and online communication are becoming more and more important. As a result, people are increasingly aiming to protect their IT systems against attacks. Cyber security considerations play a special role in governmental restrictions on foreign direct investments to protect against foreign interference in key infrastructure or security-related sectors. In Germany, this has led to increased scrutiny of M&A transactions by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (FMEA) – not limited to companies active in key areas of software development or IT security.

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The digitalisation of global trade is constantly expanding. In the 21st century data will become the most important commodity, according to a report in the German newspaper ‘Handelsblatt’. The continuing development of 3D printing technology makes it possible to send, instead of the actual goods, data that can then be used to print the goods directly at the receiving end. The more the digitisation of trade develops, the more important cybersecurity products are becoming.

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The chapter Roland Stein and Leonard von Rummel have contributed to the 8th edition of “Getting the Deal Through (GTDT): Foreign Investment Review” is now available.

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The 8th edition of Getting the Deal Through: Foreign Investment Review has just been published. Roland Stein and Leonard von Rummel contributed the chapter on the German foreign investment review regime.

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Roland Stein, Pascal Friton and Hans-Joachim Priess have been recognised as leading experts in international trade law and public procurement law in Germany and in the world in the Who’s Who Legal: Trade & Customs 2018, Government Contracts 2018 and Germany 2019 editions.

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Despite protest and all efforts to find a diplomatic solution, the US government has introduced punitive duties on steel (25%) and aluminium (10%) imported by European, Canadian and Mexican companies on Friday, 1 June 2018. The same day, the EU responded promptly and submitted a request to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for consultations under a dispute settlement procedure. Canada, the largest steel supplier to the US, has also initiated proceedings at the WTO. The Canadian Foreign Minister has announced to closely cooperate with the EU. Mexico has also expressed its intention to take action against the US.

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During Germany’s Foreign Minister Maas’ recent visit to Washington, D.C., President Trump announced that the US government would consider punitive tariffs on automobiles and automotive parts. This statement is just another step towards the US government’s efforts to isolate the US economy.

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Excise duty expert Hardy Bublitz joined BLOMSTEIN as independent Senior Excise and Trade Advisor in February 2018. Hardy Bublitz, 58 years old, is a renowned expert in excise duties, especially with regard to energy and electricity taxes. He began his career in 1982 in the Federal Customs Administration, where he worked inter alia as an auditor in the mineral oil industry. In 1985, Hardy Bublitz joined Shell, where he held various executive positions until the end of 2017 – most recently as Head of Indirect Tax Advocacy & Litigation DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). Hardy specialises in European and national customs law and excise duty law as well as indirect tax compliance. He is a distinguished speaker at events and trade conferences, and an esteemed lecturer in excise duty trainings and in-house seminars.

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The European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivered a judgement with potentially far-reaching consequences for companies’ liabilities in public international law. On 27 February 2018 (Case C-266/16Western Sahara Campaign UK v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), the ECJ ruled on the validity of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Morocco (the Fisheries Partnership Agreement or the Agreement). The Court concluded that the Fisheries Partnership Agreement was not applicable to Western Sahara and its adjoining waters. Although the underlying circumstances are rather specific, the case deals with general issues of public international law. Companies engaging in commercial activities in this region or other disputed territories should, therefore, carefully examine the judgement’s impact on their businesses. The case is a vivid reminder that trade and investment in disputed areas bear significant political and legal risks.

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The ECJ is about to clarify how excise duties on beer are calculated and whether there is a specific tax duty on flavoured beer. In a request for a preliminary ruling, a Polish court asked for clarification whether substances added after fermentation (e.g. sugar, flavours) may be taken into consideration in the overall calculation of the beer tax. The Advocate General took the position that this should not be the case and that substances added after fermentation should not increase excise duties.

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