In order to provide you with a quick overview of important news from the field of foreign trade, we have clearly prepared and summarized the most important announcements on the topics of foreign trade & export promotion for you. In addition, our members are welcome to subscribe to the monthly newsletter "AuWi News" to ensure that they do not miss any important news.
At its meeting on March 3, 2021, the German cabinet was able to agree on the adoption of the Due Diligence Act, also known as the Supply Chain Act, after months of wrangling. The Due Diligence Act will be discussed in the Bundestag in the next step. It is expected to be passed before the end of this legislative period.
The usual participation of associations did not really take place. Only selected associations were given the opportunity to comment with a feedback period of 6.5 hours on March 1, 2021. Much too short, as the BDI, for example, noted. Other associations, such as SPECTARIS, were not informed at all.
The draft bill provides for a gradual introduction. It is initially to apply to companies based in Germany with more than 3,000 employees. From 2024, it will then apply to all companies with more than 1000 employees.
In the future, affected companies will have to check whether there are any violations of human rights standards, labor standards or social standards in their supply chain. The highest due diligence obligations apply to the company's own business operations and direct suppliers with whom the company has concluded contracts. An ad hoc due diligence obligation applies to indirect suppliers. If the company has knowledge of violations, it is obliged to investigate these and, if necessary, take remedial action up to and including breaking off the relationship. In the event of violations, companies face fines under administrative offenses law. Civil liability is not introduced.
SPECTARIS welcomes the defusing of the law with regard to civil liability and the gradation in testing obligations. Nevertheless, the planned law creates additional bureaucracy and new legal uncertainties in affected companies. It is also to be feared that affected companies will outsource their inspection obligations to their suppliers from the SME sector, thus creating more bureaucracy. The limitation to companies based in Germany could also lead to a disadvantage compared to foreign companies operating in Germany, which would not have to comply with the requirements.
Since a due diligence law is currently also being discussed at EU level, the question arises as to whether a national solo effort is necessary and whether, alternatively, existing state instruments, such as the EU sanction mechanism for punishing human rights violations, would not provide a better remedy....
SPECTARIS, together with the relevant working groups, will now focus on the readings in the Bundestag and the parallel legislative process at EU level. A position paper on the draft bill is in the works.
Further information: Press release of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy Newsletter of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development BMZ: Questions and answers on the Supply Chain Act Focus page of the BMZ Information page of the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs
PRESS RELEASE of the BMWi
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) presented the results of a study on the impact of digital transformation in the economy on federal export credit guarantees at a digital workshop in November 2020.
The study shows the fundamental changes that digitalization is already causing in the German export sector. New business models, such as digital service and programming services, are increasingly taking the place of classic goods exports. This also poses new challenges for the financing of exports. The federal government, which plays an important supporting role in export financing with its guarantee instruments, responded to these changes early on. For example, digital cover options have been created specifically for small-volume transactions and application processing has been largely digitized.
At the workshop, participants from the export industry discussed the results with the technical experts responsible for the study and representatives of the BMWi. It became clear that the advancing digitization process will require further adjustments to the federal government's instruments. The exchange provided a valuable basis for analyzing and planning the next steps.
The results of the study can be found here (PDF, 2 MB). For more information on federal export credit guarantees, please visit www.agaportal.de.
The EU Commission has revised and presented its overviews of international trade requirements. The new portal is a merger of the Market Access Database (MADB) platforms and the Trade Helpdesk. In addition, a Rules of Origin Self Assessment (ROSA) tool will also be made available there in the future. The new central portal is intended to provide companies with information on all relevant commercial, European and national regulations in third countries and the domestic market in both directions for export and import transactions.
More information: https://trade.ec.europa.eu/access-to-markets/en/content