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Business Law Today

February 2024

February 2024 in Brief: International Business Law

Mike Tallim

February 2024 in Brief: International Business Law

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Italy Passes Legislation to Protect and Promote ‘Made in Italy’

By Augusto Praloran, partner, and Michele Mattia Moschetti, Bonelli Erede Lombardi Pappalardo

On January 11, 2024, Law No. 206 of 27 December 2023 on “Made in Italy” entered into force. It consists of a structured set of fifty-nine articles to protect and promote excellence in manufacturing, cultural heritage, and national cultural roots in Italy and abroad.

A proactive role has been given to central and local administrations to implement the law and to direct their actions and stimulus capacity along the principles of environmental sustainability and to foster digitalization and eco-innovation.

For this reason, the law includes the establishment of a body (Cabina di Regia per l’Internazionalizzazione) comprising representatives from ministries, professional associations, and industries to adopt strategic guidelines.

The law establishes various development avenues: from an industrial point of view, multiple incentives will be available to Italian and foreign operators that invest in Italian-made products in specific sectors.

Among these, the textile value chain takes a prominent position and is supported at various levels by the Ministry for Industry and Made in Italy (MIMIT), in collaboration with other ministries and agencies. The main focus is on investment, research, experimentation, and certification of natural textile fiber production processes and recycling practices. The main objective is to boost sustainability in terms of recycling, product life, reuse, biodegradability, and environmental impact.

Within sixty days of the entry into force of the law, MIMIT, in collaboration with the Minister for the Economy and Finance and the Minister for the Environment and Energy Security, is required to issue a decree to identify the beneficiary companies, define the modalities for applying incentives, and designate a management body tasked with supervising procedures.

Further resources have been allocated to MIMIT under the Special Fund for the Green and Digital Transition in Fashion to stimulate the textile, fashion, and accessories sector by attracting investments for a green and digital transition.

The legislator’s approach reflects the growing awareness of the importance of more sustainable and technologically advanced practices in the fashion world. Indeed, greater support is given to operators committed to greener production processes and innovative digital solutions.

The legislator was clearly mindful of the rules of the single market of the EU, as the law supports not only national identity but also the growth of the national economy. It is thus of paramount importance that the implementing support measures are in line with EU and national state aid rules.

Japan: Reasonable Accommodation for People with Disabilities Is Required from Any Person Engaging in Commercial Affairs or Other Business

By Nanako Tamaoki (Arai), Partner, Yodoyabashi & Yamagami Legal Professional Corporation

Although discrimination in terms of wage decisions, implementation of education and training, use of employee welfare and recreational facilities, and other elements of worker treatment is banned under the Act to Facilitate the Employment of Persons with Disabilities (Act No. 123 of July 25, 1960), entities in Japan have not been obligated to provide reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities in other contexts. However, from April 1, 2024, amendments to the Act for Eliminating Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Act No. 65 of June 26, 2013) (the “Act”) impose on any person engaging in commercial affairs or other business a statutory obligation to provide reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities when those people express their needs to remove social barriers. There is no clear-cut answer to what is reasonable accommodation in a certain context, but the government provides some examples: (a) removing a chair and providing a space for wheelchair to sit by a table, (b) providing a substituting method to communicate when customers can communicate with the person via the internet, (c) writing in large letters, etc. If a person fails to comply with this reasonable accommodation obligation, the minister may seek a report or provide advice, guidance, or recommendations to the person. Further, non-compliance with this new obligation will definitely cause reputation risk to the person, and it may trigger a lawsuit.

Therefore, any person, especially entities operating Business-to-Consumer businesses, should be more mindful of its operations toward people with disabilities.

Mexico: New Arbitration and Mediation Law; Changes in Labor Law and Social Security Law Related to Farmworkers’ Rights

By Luis Armendariz, De Hoyos Aviles

On January 26, 2024, the new General Law of Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms was published in Mexico’s Federal Official Gazette. This law will strengthen negotiation, mediation, and arbitration procedures as an alternative to generally slow and exhausting lawsuits and judicial disputes. As a distinctive feature, the law contemplates the possibility of opting for any of these mechanisms in ongoing lawsuits against the government. Also, it establishes that these types of procedures can be handled through remote or hybrid means at the choice of the involved parties.

The new legislation entered into force on January 27, 2024. However, the federal government and the states have a one-year period to make adjustments to the respective laws and/or issue the corresponding regulations.

On a different front, on January 24, 2024, the President of Mexico published in the Federal Official Gazette the decree that amends the Federal Labor Law and the Social Security Law, changes that took effect as of January 25, 2024.

The purpose of this amendment is to consider farmworkers as essential personnel and guarantee their labor and social security rights, such as exact determination of the minimum wage they must receive according to their specific activities, access to reliable information regarding their working conditions, right to housing—which must be provided by the employer, and free medical assistance, among others.

Lastly, on February 21, 2024, new provisions were issued related to the renewal of the registration in the Public Registry of Specialized Services or Specialized Works Contractors, a registry where all specialized service providers (i.e., to companies whose regular course of business does not include such specialized service) must be recorded. Parties who registered after the June 2021 amendments prohibiting payroll outsourcing must renew their registration from March to May 2024 (three months prior to reaching three years of registration). If the renewal is not carried out, the registration will be automatically cancelled.