Biden Administration’s temporary freeze on U.S. regulations, implications for trade-related guidance

Biden Administration’s temporary freeze on regulations

Ronald Klain, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, this week issued a memorandum to heads of executive departments and agencies, on behalf of President Biden, imposing a freeze on new regulations pending review by the new administration.


Subject to exceptions for certain emergencies and “other urgent circumstances relating to health, safety, environmental, financial, or national security matters, or otherwise” (and for regulations subject to statutory or judicial deadlines), the memorandum generally directs that:

  • No regulations or rules are to be proposed or issued “in any manner” (including by sending a rule to the Federal Register) until a department or agency head appointed by President Biden reviews and approves the rule.
  • Concerning regulations or rules that have been sent to the Federal Register but not yet published, these rules are to be immediately withdrawn and reviewed.
  • Concerning regulations or rules that have been published in the Federal Register, or that have been issued in any manner, but have not taken effect, consideration is to be given to postponing the effective date for 60 days (from January 20, 2021). During this 60-day period, consideration is to be given to: (1) opening a 30-day comment period to allow interested parties to provide comments and to consider pending petitions for reconsideration involving the rules; and (2) as appropriate and when necessary to continue to review questions of fact, law and policy, and further delaying or publishing for notice and comment proposed rules also further delaying, the subject rules beyond the 60-day period. Following the 60-day delay:
    • For those rules that raise no substantial questions of fact, law, or policy, no further action needs to be taken.
    • For those rules that raise substantial questions of fact, law, or policy, agencies are directed to notify the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director and take further appropriate action in consultation with the OMB Director.

Implications for trade-related regulations

There are regulations concerning trade and customs guidance that may possibly be subject to this temporary freeze, such as:

  • Proposed regulations from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) concerning the “de minimis exemption” for Section 301 customs duties—read TradeNewsFlash
  • Proposed regulations concerning merchandise produced by convict or forced labor or indentured labor under penal sanctions—RIN: 1515AE36 pending review by OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)
  • Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) controls regarding U.S. technologies and specific activities of U.S. persons who may be supporting foreign military-intelligence end-uses and end-users in China, Cuba, Russia, and Venezuela as well as those located in “terrorist-supporting countries”—read TradeNewsFlash

For more information on this topic or to learn more about KPMG’s Trade & Customs Services, contact:

Doug Zuvich
Partner and Global Practice Leader
T: 312-665-1022

John L. McLoughlin
Principal and East Coast Leader
T: 267-256-2614

Andy Siciliano
Partner and National Practice Leader
T: 631-425-6057

Steve Brotherton
Principal and Global Export and Sanctions Leader
T: 415-963-7861

Luis (Lou) Abad
Principal, Washington National Tax
T: 212-954-3094

Irina Vaysfeld
T: 212-872-2973

Amie Ahanchian
T: 202-533-3247

Christopher Young
T: 312-665-3229

Gisele Belotto
Managing Director
T: 305-913-2779

George Zaharatos
T: 404-222-3292

Andy Doornaert
Managing Director
T: 313-230-3080

Jessica Libby
Managing Director
T: 612-305-5533

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