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International Affairs Division, U.S. Chamber-Newslatter : International Policy

22 November 2021 Monday

U.S. Chamber of Commerce
International Policy Update
November 19, 2021
Chamber Urges Constructive Action Following Biden-Xi Meeting
Business Groups Issue Recommendations Ahead of North American Summit
Hill Leaders Debate Path for U.S. Innovation and Competition Act
Chamber Urges Congress to Move on GSP, MTB, PNTR for Kazakhstan
Raimondo Touts Indo-Pacific Economic “Framework” During Visit to Region
Chamber Comments on Section 232 Investigation on Neodymium Magnets
From the Home Front
Chamber of Commerce Stands Up to FTC Going Rogue
Chamber Statement on House Passage of Partisan, Multi-Trillion-Dollar Reconciliation Bill
 ICYMI: Chamber Applauds Passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
Chamber Urges Constructive Action Following Biden-Xi Meeting
Following the November 15 meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant published an op-ed in The Hill emphasizing the need for both governments to redouble their efforts to chart a constructive and pragmatic path forward in U.S.-China relations that preserves the benefits of the trade and commercial relationship while accounting for more competitive aspects of the overall relationship. Brilliant offered three key policy recommendations for the Biden administration:
  1. Increase efforts to ensure full Phase One implementation, enabling both sides to formulate a basis for addressing concerns such as China’s state-directed industrial subsidies, domestic market share targets, and digital restrictions;
  2. Begin to remove bilateral tariffs in place since 2018, and more immediately, to significantly expand tariff exclusions, which would provide relief to U.S. businesses, workers, and consumers; and
  3. Collaborate on key global challenges, including climate change, public health, and macro-financial matters, thereby enabling a strong, stable, and equitable global pandemic recovery.
In a separate interview with Yahoo Finance, Brilliant reiterated his call for substantive follow-up actions, stating:
“What’s really important now is what’s going to come out of this meeting. What next steps are taken on the trade front? … We need to get the details of what the next steps are. What’s concrete about this discussion that took place last night is really the follow-through.”
President Biden and President Xi did not spent a significant amount of time addressing the Phase One deal or other trade disputes during their meeting, though according to an official White House readout, President Biden “was clear about the need to protect American workers and industries from the PRC’s unfair trade and economic practices.”
Ahead of the meeting, the U.S. Chamber joined two dozen other trade associations in sending a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai with recommendations on advancing a more comprehensive trade and economic strategy with China. The letter called on the Biden administration to ensure full implementation of the Phase One agreement, prioritize progress on outstanding structural challenges such as China’s state-directed economic policies and market access issues, and reduce the Section 301 tariffs and broaden the tariff exclusion process with the end goal of complete removal of the tariffs. The groups also encouraged the Biden administration to build on the administration’s efforts to improve U.S. ties with other key trading partners with shared interests.
For further information, please contact U.S. Chamber China Center President Jeremie Waterman (jwaterman@uschamber.com).
Business Groups Issue Recommendations Ahead of North American Summit
Ahead of the North American Leaders Summit on November 18, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and Mexico’s Consejo Coordinador Empresarial sent an open letter to U.S. President Joe Biden, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau encouraging the leaders to commit to concrete actions “to ensure all three countries make tangible progress toward achieving our shared vision for making North America the most dynamic and competitive region in the world.” The letter outlines three specific areas for the countries to further improve the regional economic relationship:
  1. Ensure full implementation of the USMCA, including by increasing government-to-government dialogue and enforcement actions;
  2. Guarantee an open and transparent investment environment to ensure certainty for business and adherence to global good governance practices; and
  3. Capitalize on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to improve functioning of cross-border supply chains and ensuring uninterrupted provision of essential industries and services.
Assessments of the outcomes of the Summit are ongoing. The White House issued a fact sheet with some general conclusions.
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for the Americas Neil Herrington (nherrington@uschamber.com).
Hill Leaders Debate Path for U.S. Innovation and Competition Act
On November 17, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) agreed to go to conference on the Senate-passed “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA)” instead of including it in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. Announced over the weekend, Schumer’s abortive proposal to include USICA as an amendment to the NDAA drew significant pushback from the House and Senate Republicans. The House has been working on its own version of a China competition bill since earlier this year, passing some elements but to date failing to move others.
In a statement, the two leaders acknowledged, “While there are many areas of agreement on these legislative proposals between the two chambers, there are still a number of important unresolved issues.” Among others, those areas include language to renew the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) as well as re-vamp the Section 301 exclusion process — all of which were included in an eleventh hour trade package secured by Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) in June. While House GOP lawmakers generally support Crapo’s trade package — which the Senate approved by 94-to-1 — House Democrats have been pushing for changes. It also remains to be seen whether the “Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act” will be included in a final China bill, though the Chamber thinks it is likely.
The structure and timing of the conference process on USICA remains to be seen. Speaker Pelosi made no mention of this plan during her weekly presser on legislative priorities on Thursday. Both chambers are in session for approximately 10 more legislative days this year unless extended by leadership, a reality that suggests USICA’s approval may be delayed to 2022.
Additionally, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) said he wants climate provisions included in the legislation, adding he plans to play a “major role” in the negotiations.
The Senate on November 19 agreed by voice vote on the NDAA’s motion to proceed. The U.S. Chamber this week sent a letter on the must-pass legislation. Specifically, it continues to oppose moves to include an outbound investment review mechanism introduced by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) as well as a number of other amendments.
For further information, please contact Director for International Policy Isabelle Icso (iicso@uschamber.com).
Chamber Urges Congress to Move on GSP, MTB, PNTR for Kazakhstan
The Chamber on November 17 sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Crapo and House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) urging Congress to advance legislation renewing GSP and the MTB and to approve legislation to extend Permanent Normal Trade Relations to Kazakhstan this year. The letter contends that “further delay in approving these measures will present real and mounting costs for U.S. workers and businesses.”
For further information, please contact Director for International Policy Isabelle Icso (iicso@uschamber.com).
Raimondo Touts Indo-Pacific Economic “Framework” During Visit to Region
The Biden Administration is working to develop an Indo-Pacific economic framework, which Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced during her first official visit to the region. The framework, which would not need congressional approval, would include cooperation on a variety of elements, such as supply chains, clean energy, and digital trade. Secretary Raimondo on November 15 said the framework “could be even more robust in some ways than the traditional free trade agreement,” but by the time of her visit to Asia was describing it as “flexible” and “inclusive.” She also maintained that the administration has no plans to re-join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Secretary Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai have been raising this initiative with their counterparts throughout their trip with an aim to develop a full framework in early 2022.
On November 17, Secretary Raimondo met with officials from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Japan where they agreed “to strengthen efforts to help address shared priorities for countries in the Indo-Pacific region, including enhancing supply chain resilience, promoting infrastructure investment, growing the digital and green economies, towards broadly shared economic prosperity for the region.”
Ambassador Tai announced that same day the formation of the U.S.-Japan Partnership on Trade, which will include regular engagement on trade-related matters starting in 2022. In her statement, Ambassador Tai noted that this partnership “will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s development of an economic framework for the Indo-Pacific.” The U.S. and Japan also announced on November 12 the start of consultations to address global steel and aluminum excess capacity and the Section 232 tariffs.
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for Asia Charles Freeman (cfreeman@uschamber.com).
Chamber Comments on Section 232 Investigation on Neodymium Magnets
On November 12, the U.S. Chamber submitted comments in response to the Department of Commerce’s request for public comments on its national security investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 into imports of neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnets. Neodymium, a rare earth mineral produced in large part in China and a component in the magnets used in products such as electric vehicle motors, medical equipment, wind turbines, and elements of defense systems, was identified as a key supply chain vulnerability in the Biden administration’s June 100-day supply chain review report.
The Chamber’s comments express opposition to the efficacy of import tariffs or quotas to achieve the administration’s goal of expanding domestic production of neodymium magnets and warn of the consequences such restrictions may have on U.S. workers and businesses.
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
From the Home Front
Chamber of Commerce Stands Up to FTC Going Rogue
On November 19, the U.S. Chamber submitted a series of filings and letters to the Federal Trade Commission to strenuously object to the FTC’s recent egregious practices that pose a grave threat to American businesses and economic growth. President and CEO Suzanne Clark stated:
“The FTC is waging a war against American businesses, so the U.S. Chamber is fighting back to protect free enterprise, American competitiveness, and economic growth.”
“The FTC’s radical departure from its core mission under Chairwoman Khan is deeply concerning to our members across the business ecosystem. American companies are facing historic challenges with inflation, strained supply chains and worker shortages, while the FTC is going rogue and engaging in regulatory overreach that is accelerating uncertainty and threatening our fragile economic recovery.”
“Today, the Chamber is putting the FTC on notice that we will use every tool at our disposal, including litigation, to stop its abuse of power, to stand up for due process, and to protect the free enterprise system and America’s vibrant economy. And we will work with policymakers on Capitol Hill to hold the commission accountable.”
Specifically, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is raising formal objections to:
  • The use of so-called “zombie” voting by former Democratic Commissioner Rohit Chopra. The agency claims that secret rules allow a commissioner to cast secret votes before leaving office and then count those votes as needed after his departure. It is clear that the FTC’s reliance on zombie votes is unlawful. (See letter here.)
  • External Influence on FTC decision making. Congress created the FTC as an independent agency, entrusting it to exercise its expert opinion free from political influence. Current law and precedent gives agencies deference when they exercise their expert judgement and engage in reasoned decision-making. However, it appears that much of the FTC’s current agenda may be driven by external actors, including the White House. Political interference into the decision making of independent agencies undermines agency rulemaking and the rule of law and calls into question whether agencies have forfeited the deference they currently enjoy. (See letter here.)
  • The FTC’s Use of Civil Penalty Authority. Earlier this year, the FTC followed a recommendation by former Commissioner Chopra to resurrect the use of the Penalty Offense Authority to go after entire industries. The FTC issued public letters to 1,800 companies warning that they’ll face severe penalties, potentially side stepping the requirement for a case-by-case analysis. This appears to be an attempt to publicly shame companies, laying the groundwork to impose substantial future penalties on legitimate companies. (See letter here.)
In addition to these letters, today the Chamber filed more than 30 Freedom of Information Act Requests with the FTC to seek detailed information on how it has manipulated its rules and procedures while potentially ceding its independent agency status to political interference.
Recent actions from the FTC that undermine its checks and balances include:
  • allowing one commissioner, as opposed to a majority, to authorize compulsory investigations
  • changing the rulemaking process to give the Chair more control
  • announcing that it is counting the “zombie” votes of a commissioner who is no longer serving to break 2-2 ties
  • withdrawing the statement of enforcement principles regarding “unfair methods of competition,” removing the central role of consumers and economic analysis
  • rescinding the 1995 policy statement on prior notice and approval for future acquisitions subjecting even small future acquisitions to prior approval
  • repealing the 2020 vertical merger guidelines—creating uncertainty
Chamber Statement on House Passage of Partisan, Multi-Trillion-Dollar Reconciliation Bill
On November 19, the U.S. Chamber released the following statement on House passage of the Build Back Better Act:
“As American businesses and our economy face the highest inflation in 31 years, supply chain challenges, and worker shortages, the multi-trillion reconciliation bill passed by the House will only make things worse. If enacted, the bill would create uncertainty for businesses and families alike and undermine our fragile recovery. This bill should not be passed by the Senate.”
ICYMI: Chamber Applauds Passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
On November 15, U.S. Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill:
“Today, all Americans won. The enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help connect 14 million Americans to broadband, provide clean drinking water for 10 million families, upgrade our energy grid, and grow our economy. It is the single largest investment in bridges since construction of the Interstate Highway System and the single largest investment in innovation, efficiency, and resiliency to address climate change in U.S. history.
“We thank every member of the House and Senate who cast a vote for America’s future, and for President Biden’s leadership and signing this historic legislation into law. I was honored to be at the White House today to witness this historic moment for our nation, our economy, and all American businesses and workers.
“This victory wouldn’t have been possible without the leadership of Senators Portman, Cassidy, Sinema, and Manchin, and key members of the House Problem Solvers Caucus. The bipartisan infrastructure negotiations showed us how Congress, the Administration, business and a diverse coalition of interests can work together to solve today's most pressing challenges.
“For more than 25 years the Chamber has led the charge for investment in America’s crumbling infrastructure. We will continue to work with our partners in business, labor, and government to identify projects with the most critical need, help find the necessary workers to get started, and bring much-needed investment to communities across America.”
View the U.S. Chamber’s 25-Year Timeline to an Infrastructure Deal for a look back at the most notable moments that culminated in this historic victory, and read a blog post outlining five big wins the bill will bring to the U.S. economy.

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