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Minwoo Kim

As a member of the international arbitration and trade practices, Minwoo Kim counsels U.S. and global firms, industry associations, and foreign governments on complex international and cross-border legal issues.

Minwoo represents sovereign states and global firms in all stages of international treaty-based and commercial disputes. He also helps U.S. and global firms, industry associations, and foreign governments interpret and assess foreign regulatory practices under international trade agreements, including the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, as well as preferential trade agreements.

Prior to joining the firm, Minwoo was a judicial intern for Hon. Rudolph Contreras, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, a legal intern at the Integrity Vice Presidency, the World Bank, and an intern at the National Assembly of Korea, the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee. Minwoo also maintains an active pro bono practice.

UN General Assembly Adopts Resolution Requesting Advisory Opinion on States’ Obligations Concerning Climate Change

On March 29, 2023, the UN General Assembly (“UNGA”) adopted by consensus a resolution (A/77/L.58) requesting an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (“ICJ” or “Court”) on the obligations of states in respect of climate change. The resolution results from coordinated efforts by the Republic of Vanuatu, along with a “Core Group” of states, including Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, the Federated States of Micronesia, Morocco, Mozambique, New Zealand, Portugal, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Uganda, and Viet Nam. The efforts of the Core Group drew on grassroots and civil society support, and the resolution was ultimately co-sponsored by more than 130 UN member states (although not the United States, Brazil, India, China, or Russia).

This marks the latest effort to ask international courts and tribunals to clarify the legal obligations of states in relation to climate change. In the last few months, similar requests for advisory opinions have been submitted to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (“ITLOS”) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (“IACHR”).

Questions in the UNGA Resolution

The UNGA resolution observes that “as temperatures rise, impacts from climate and weather extremes […] will pose an ever-greater social, cultural, economic and environmental threat.” It asks the ICJ to issue its opinion on the following questions:

a) What are the obligations of States under international law to ensure the protection of the climate system and other parts of the environment from anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases for States and for present and future generations;Continue Reading The World Court Set to Become the Latest Venue for Climate Change Jurisprudence

On March 28, 2023, the United States and Japan entered into a bilateral agreement, titled the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Japan on Strengthening Critical Minerals Supply Chains (“U.S.-Japan Critical Minerals Agreement” or “Agreement”). 

Context and Significance of the U.S.-Japan Critical Minerals Agreement

Prompting this

On September 8 and 9, top trade officials of the United States and the other Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (“IPEF” or “Framework”) partner countries—Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam—launched formal negotiations in Los Angeles.

This marked the first in-person ministerial-level meeting since the IPEF launched on May 23, 2022 and follows three informal meetings since May 2022, the latest event being the virtual ministerial on July 26-27, discussed in detail in our previous post.

The Los Angeles ministerial involved intensive discussions on what to include in the scope of the Framework. Ultimately, the IPEF partners reached consensus on ministerial statements for each of the four IPEF framework pillars: Trade, Supply Chain, Clean Economy, and Fair Economy. All 14 IPEF partners have joined three of the pillars, and 13 joined the fourth—with just India opting out of the Trade pillar. While this near unanimous support for the four pillars is certainly a positive sign, the real work begins now.

This blog post summarizes how the ministerial statements characterize the four pillars and outlines next steps for the Framework and key remaining questions.

Takeaways from the Ministerial Statements

The ministerial statements confirmed the four pillars of negotiation and provided added clarity on the scope and content of each pillar. While the statements add little to the substance, they indicate a political commitment among the partners to the Framework.Continue Reading IPEF Partners Adopt Ministerial Statement and Negotiation Objectives

On July 26-27, 2022, the Biden Administration hosted a two-day virtual meeting with top trade officials from the 13 other partners of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (“IPEF” or “Framework”)—Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. This was the first ministerial meeting since the 13 initial participants[1] agreed on May 23, 2022 to launch “collective discussions towards future negotiations” on the Framework. The IPEF currently focuses on four “pillars”: (1) Trade; (2) Supply Chains; (3) Clean Energy, Decarbonization, and Infrastructure; and (4) Tax and Anti-Corruption. Touted as a “21st century economic arrangement designed to tackle 21st century economic challenges,” the IPEF is said to offer what Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo calls a “innovative and flexible approach,” and is “internationally designed not to be a ‘same old, same old’ traditional free trade agreement.”

The Framework’s novel approach, however, has raised a flurry of unanswered questions. Key U.S. stakeholders, for instance, have questioned the Biden Administration’s decision not to discuss tariff reductions or market access as part of the IPEF negotiations. Concerns have been raised about the enforceability of any agreements concluded among Framework partners. Potential agreements within each pillar remain largely unknown or undisclosed, even though the Framework partners have spent months engaged in a “scoping exercise” to define the components of each pillar.

This latest ministerial meeting added little clarity. No joint statement was released at the end of the meeting, suggesting that more remains to be done before formal, text-based negotiations begin. But as negotiators approach the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s announcement of the initiative at the October 2021 East Asia Summit meeting, there is growing expectation of more concrete outcomes. The dates for the next ministerial meeting have not been formally announced, though informal reports speculate that the Framework partners may hold the next meeting in September 2022, possibly as the first in-person ministerial.

This alert outlines the scope and objectives of the IPEF’s four pillars, the progress to date and next steps, key remaining questions, and stakeholder reactions thus far.Continue Reading Biden Administration Hosts the First Indo-Pacific Economic Framework Ministerial: Updates, Outlook, and Remaining Questions

On January 15, 2020, President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed the much-anticipated “Phase One” trade agreement between the U.S. and China. Set to take effect no later than February 14, 2020, the “Economic and Trade Agreement Between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China” (the “Agreement”) is the