You are in charge of an American subsidiary company in France that manufactures advanced robotics equipment used in the automobile industry. You have engineering and research facilities in both countries. You receive an inquiry about your robotics from someone claiming to represent an upstart Chinese automobile manufacturer. He requests immediate information and explains that the plant is already well beyond the planning and financing stages and that things will soon begin to “move very quickly.” Answer the following questions.
1. Do the U.S. export regulations apply to your firm in France? Why?
2. Since this involves a potential sale to a customer, you question whether the U.S. regulations require an export license just to disclose some technical information. Does it? Explain.
3. How do you respond to his request for information? How much information may you give to him without a license? At what point do you have to stop? Explain.
4. You know that if you have to apply for a license, you will need more information about this individual, his company, and its location, the end use of the product, and the ultimate destination. How would you obtain that information? What sources would you use? Are there any industry, government, or banking sources that could help you? What special precautions would you want to take to ensure that his inquiry is legitimate and honest? Explain.
5. You and your prospective customer decide to meet and go over engineering and technical specifications. What steps must you take before the meeting to ensure compliance with the law? Does it matter whether you are meeting in the United States, France, or China?
6. It is some time later, and having worked out all necessary arrangements, you are ready to ship and arrange installation of your first pieces of equipment. In the interim, with no apparent provocation, China refuses to allow a U.S. naval ship to make a prearranged stop in Hong Kong. There are 1,000 sailors aboard who hope to spend Christmas with their family members, who have traveled all the way to Hong Kong for the holidays. You apply for a U.S. license with the BIS, and it is turned down based on a new ban on the sale of certain items to China, including robotics. You exhaust the administrative appeal process. Do you have any rights against the BIS? Are you protected by the U. S. Constitution, since they changed the rule just prior to your shipment date?
7. The French government is very interested in your company making the sale. The President of France considers it a technological coup d’état. On learning that the United States blocked your sale, he threatens to fine your company up to five times the value of the shipment and to throw you in a French prison. What do you do? Do you comply with the laws of the United States or the laws of France? What are the alternatives?