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

15 November 2021 Monday

U.S. Chamber of Commerce
International Policy Update
November 12, 2021
Business Groups Call for U.S. Leadership at WTO
Efforts to Cobble Together a China Competition Bill Continue
Korean, U.S. Business Leaders Issue Recommendations for Cooperation
Senators Urge Administration to Act on Digital Trade Agreement
From the Home Front
U.S. Chamber Applauds Passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
Business Groups Call for U.S. Leadership at WTO
The Chamber co-led a November 9 multi-association letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai following her recent remarks affirming the U.S. commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to securing positive outcomes at the upcoming 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12). The letter stemmed in part from a September meeting of association leaders with WTO Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and emphasizes the need for U.S. leadership at MC12, which will take place from November 30 to December 3 in Geneva.
The letter, which was also signed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Business Roundtable, the National Foreign Trade Council, the U.S. Council for International Business and several other groups, reads in part:
“A successful MC12 will require urgent U.S. leadership to secure concrete deliverables that advance U.S. interests and competitiveness in areas such as fisheries, domestic regulations, agriculture, e-commerce, trade facilitation and pandemic response. Such results will demonstrate that the WTO can produce meaningful outcomes and can set a foundation for future reforms and commitments. Outcomes that weaken WTO rules, however, such as by undermining longstanding disciplines on subsidies, electronic transmissions or intellectual property, would instead weaken core WTO principles and commitments as well as support for the institution.”
The letter also emphasized the need to address dispute settlement and the Appellate Body:
“WTO dispute settlement holds parties to their commitments. Reforming the WTO dispute settlement system will require the United States to offer concrete and detailed proposals that address longstanding process and appellate body overreach concerns to enable the system to resolve disputes efficiently and effectively. The United States has successfully used WTO dispute settlement to challenge WTO violations without resorting to unilateral measures that draw retaliation and tit-for-tat escalation. Reforming and restoring the system will support U.S. interests and can hold WTO members accountable to their commitments.”
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
Efforts to Cobble Together a China Competition Bill Continue
While the “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA)” passed the Senate in June, the bill has remained stalled as the House continues to pursue a divergent approach. Significant roadblocks remain, primarily because coordination between chambers was limited from the start. Additionally, the energies of the Congress continue to be consumed by the reconciliation bill, the debt ceiling, funding bills for FY2022, and the National Defense Authorization Act as the calendar year winds down.
USICA would allocate $200 billion into U.S. R&D and high-tech manufacturing, including $52 billion in incentives for domestic semiconductor manufacturing in a measure known as the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act. Among other items, the bill includes language that would require more coordination with the European Union and other allies on export control policies as well as several “Buy American” and other procurement provisions. The Chamber sent the Senate a letter expressing support for the bill before its approval while also calling for specific changes as the legislative process continues.
USICA also includes language that would renew trade programs that expired last December. However, House Democrats appear to be on a different page from the Senate when it comes to including measures renewing the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) in the bill. The House has yet to formally introduce its full version of a China competition bill but has moved several R&D focused measures that may be drawn into the process.
Additionally, some senators have tried to break out CHIPS for America Act funding from USICA and airlift it into NDAA. However, Majority Leader Schumer and others appear to oppose such a move. Momentum could build to conference various China competition language between the chambers and get a bill to the president’s desk, though it may be in a form that is different than the original USICA. Member companies are encouraged to share their views and concerns with Chamber staff.
For further information, please contact Director for International Policy Isabelle Icso (iicso@uschamber.com).
Korean, U.S. Business Leaders Issue Recommendations for Cooperation
On November 8, U.S. and Korean leaders of the U.S.-Korea Business Council and the Korea-U.S. Business Council (the “Councils”) convened their 33rd Annual Joint Plenary Meeting. The Joint Plenary centered around the priority areas for U.S.-Korea cooperation announced during the Moon-Biden summit last May, including close collaboration on pandemic response, expanded cooperation to secure supply chains in critical industries and emerging technologies, and a shared commitment to combat climate change. The Councils also discussed ways to strengthen the bilateral relationship and improve the business environment in the U.S. and Korean market to accelerate the post-pandemic recovery.
The Councils reaffirmed their commitment to work to advance the two governments’ goals and expressed their readiness to collaborate with the governments to implement a series of recommendations under the following headings:
  1. Strengthen the U.S.-Korea economic relationship to accelerate Post-Covid-19 recovery
  2. Build a resilient and trusted supply chain in critical sectors
  3. Promote regulatory cooperation in the digital economy and strengthen partnership on critical and emerging technologies
  4. Achieve carbon neutrality and enhance environmental sustainability
The Councils agreed to hold the 34th USKBC-KUSBC Joint Plenary Meeting in the Fall of 2022 in Seoul. For further information, please contact Executive Director of the U.S.-Korea Business Council Esperanza Jelalian (ejelalian@uschamber.com).
Senators Urge Administration to Act on Digital Trade Agreement
On November 8, Senate Finance Committee Republicans, in a letter led by Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), urged the Biden administration to pursue a digital trade agreement in the Indo-Pacific region to set global trade rules for the digital economy. The Senators asserted that the “United States continues to sit on the sidelines” as China is actively seeking trade agreements in East Asia, which they avowed is detrimental to U.S. interests. The letter emphasizes the need for the United States to demonstrate effective leadership in trade policy by acting promptly on trade and engaging in this effort with close consultation between the administration and Congress.
The letter reads in part:
“Our refusal to get into the game to set the rules for trade in the Indo-Pacific encourages potential partners to move forward without us and ensures China will hold the reins of the global economy.
“If this challenge is left unanswered, China will continue to make headway in its strategy to build a China-centric economic order and displace the United States from its pre- eminent position in international affairs.
“To reverse and prevent such an unfavorable development from happening, the United Sates must show effective leadership on trade; it must do so promptly; and it must do so together with the Administration and Congress working as one.
“To reestablish leadership in trade policy, the United States must—as a start—negotiate and conclude high standard rules for digital trade with our partners in the Indo-Pacific. This is an area of critical importance to the United States, and one in which the United States, and its Asian allies, are innovators and leaders.”
The letter follows remarks Ambassador Tai gave last week at a roundtable on digital trade hosted by the Georgetown University Law Institute for Technology Law and Policy. There, she discussed how her agency is evaluating its approach to digital trade and highlighted the need for national security and domestic and foreign policy to be considered in a broader digital trade agenda. Ambassador Tai gave little indication, however, that her agency would pursue a digital trade deal in the near future despite pressure following China’s recent request to join Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore in the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement and its application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The Chamber recently joined with other business groups to urge Ambassador Tai to develop digital trade rules in the Indo-Pacific to re-assert U.S. leadership in advancing ambitious international rules on digital trade. The letter reiterates a number of points Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy made in a paper, including the opportunities a digital trade agreement would bring to small and medium-sized businesses and the threatening trend toward data-restrictive practices and digital protectionist measures around the world.
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
From the Home Front
U.S. Chamber Applauds Passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
On November 5, 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’s passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill is a major win for America.
“We thank every member of the House and Senate who cast a vote for America’s future. This historic 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 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 create millions of jobs. It is the single largest investment in bridges since construction of the Interstate Highway System and the single largest investment made to address climate change in U.S. history.
“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.
“The bipartisan infrastructure negotiations showed us how Congress can work together to solve today's most pressing challenges.
"Members of the House also made the right decision in delaying consideration of the partisan reconciliation bill. It would be the height of irresponsibility for Members of Congress to vote on a multi-trillion tax-and-spend bill without even knowing its true cost or even pausing to consider the policy ramifications. The Chamber applauds those members who helped inject some common sense into this process.”
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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