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

1 November 2021 Monday

U.S. Chamber of Commerce
International Policy Update
October 29, 2021
Chamber Reiterates Concerns about TRIPS Waiver Talks to USTR
Chamber Hosts 2021 U.S.-Brazil Connect Summit
G7 Trade Ministers Agree on Digital Trade Principles
Crapo, Brady Blast USTR Decision to Withdraw DST Tariff Threat
Commerce Requests Comments on Section 232 Investigation on Magnet Imports
USITC to Hold Hearing on Extending Solar Safeguard Measures
Chamber Supports Lewis for Ex-Im Chair
Icso Joins Chamber as Director for International Policy
From the Home Front
Statement on Delayed Infrastructure Vote
Commentary (ICYMI)
A New Urgency: Next Steps on the U.S. Steel and Aluminum Tariffs
 The Business Case for the WTO — and for its Dispute Settlement System
Chamber Reiterates Concerns about TRIPS Waiver Talks to USTR
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on October 25 reiterating industry concerns about negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for a waiver from the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement for Covid-19 vaccines. The letter warns that such a waiver “would undermine not just longstanding U.S. policy but undercut U.S. led efforts to vaccinate the global community.” It was co-signed by Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant and President and CEO of the Global Innovation Policy Center David Hirschmann.
The letter notes that the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) looms as an inflection point for the global pandemic response, the rules-based multilateral trading system, and international IP. It reads in part:
“Since the pandemic, manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccine doses has surged to 1.6 billion per month, 9.3 billion so far this year, more than 12 billion by the end of 2021, and a projected 24 billion by the end of June 2022. This explosive growth in global vaccine production confirms that IP was not an impediment to vaccine discovery, development, or production at a scale to serve the world. Moreover, we would encourage the U.S. to promote genuinely positive actions at MC12 — particularly through the proposed Trade and Health Initiative — to drive actions to ramp up dose sharing, address supply chain bottlenecks and support country level distribution…
“U.S. support for even a limited cessation of TRIPS standards will have an immediate dampening effect on the ability of the private sector to finance research and development, and a chilling long-term impact on U.S. technological leadership (in biotechnology, green technology, defense and other key sectors), all while providing formal impunity to IP theft by Chinese entities and other serial offenders.”
For further information, please contact Senior Director for International Affairs at the Global Innovation Policy Center Robert Grant (rgrant@uschamber.com).
Chamber Hosts 2021 U.S.-Brazil Connect Summit
On October 27, the Brazil-U.S. Business Council hosted the “2021 U.S.-Brazil Connect Summit.” The event convened senior officials from both governments, leading executives, officials from multilateral institutions, and other stakeholders to promote effective engagement, collaboration, and action on deepening bilateral cooperation and rebuilding prosperity in a post-pandemic world. The summit featured keynote remarks from H.E. Jair Bolsonaro, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, as well as conversations and interactive sessions with government officials and business leaders including Ricardo Zúniga, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Special Envoy for the Northern Triangle; Pedro Miguel da Costa e Silva, Brazil’s Secretary for Bilateral and Regional Negotiations in the Americas; and Brazilian Ambassador to the United States Nestor Forster.
For further information, please contact the U.S. Chamber’s Brazil-U.S. Business Council Executive Director Cassia Carvalho (ccarvalho@uschamber.com).
G7 Trade Ministers Agree on Digital Trade Principles
On October 22, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Trade announced a set of Digital Trade Principles agreed upon by G7 Trade Ministers at their London meeting. While lacking the force of a binding trade agreement, the principles show the G7 nations’ support for the values and norms of open digital markets and mark a notable degree of international consensus on digital trade. Among the highlights:
(1) Open digital markets, which includes opposition to digital protectionism and digital authoritarianism as well as support for a permanent prohibition of customs duties on electronic transmissions;
(2) Data free flow with trust, which expresses concern over data localization policies being used for protectionist and discriminatory purposes and support for enhanced government cooperation on data governance and data protection;
(3) Safeguards for workers, consumers, and businesses, which emphasizes the need for effective measures to ensure labor and consumer protections are in place while also ensuring businesses can benefit from digital innovation;
(4) Digital trading systems, which advocates for a reduction in red tape and the adoption of digital tools to improve trade facilitation throughout the supply chain; and
(5) Fair and inclusive global governance, which encourages common rules for digital trade to be agreed upon and upheld at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai issued the following statement on the outcomes of the G7 Trade Ministers meeting:
“We also clearly expressed our shared values and opposition to models of digital authoritarianism and digital protectionism. We are concerned with the increasing use of digital trade measures to undermine freedom of speech and expression, as well as government use of surveillance systems that run counter to our shared norms and values, including human rights and a free and open internet. Our commitments on digital trade should contribute to inclusive growth and support innovation and align with a worker-centric, human-centric trade policy, and that the gains from digital trade are equitably distributed.”
The Chamber is a strong advocate for governments to secure a successful result in the WTO’s Joint Statement Initiative negotiations on e-commerce in addition to seeking new digital trade agreements—bilaterally and plurilaterally—with ambitious partners. The Chamber recently joined with other business groups to urge Ambassador Tai to develop digital trade rules in the Indo-Pacific as a way to re-assert U.S. leadership in advancing ambitious international rules on digital trade.
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Regulatory Affairs & Antitrust Sean Heather (sheather@uschamber.com).
Crapo, Brady Blast USTR Decision to Withdraw DST Tariff Threat
On October 22, in a joint statement, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) and House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) blasted the Biden administration’s deal with France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria, and Spain, faulting the move for not requiring that those countries immediately remove their unilateral digital services taxes (DSTs). The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) had classified the DSTs as discriminatory against U.S. businesses in its Section 301 investigations. USTR agreed to terminate the tariff actions associated with the Section 301 investigations as part of a broader deal ahead of the implementation of Pillar 1 of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework’s agreement on a new multilateral tax regime. The five countries will remove their DSTs when the new framework is implemented.
The two Republican trade leaders’ statement reads in part:
“Rather than preserving our ability to protect American businesses and jobs, the Biden Administration is surrendering once again to our foreign competitors to further their objective of raising taxes on Americans. Worse, the Administration is pressuring Congress to accept its demands by letting foreign nations discriminate against our businesses and workers until it does so.
“Instead of taking action, however, the Biden Administration retreated by failing to demand immediate repeal of discriminatory taxes, which will continue for years, if not indefinitely. The Administration simply settled for an empty promise--if we reform our tax laws to these countries’ satisfaction, then they will grant U.S. businesses tax credits against future taxes.”
The Chamber has consistently pressed countries subject to Section 301 investigations in connection with their unilateral DSTs to immediately drop those discriminatory measures and focus their efforts on completing the multilateral negotiations.
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
Commerce Requests Comments on Section 232 Investigation on Magnet Imports
Responses to the Department of Commerce’s request for public comments on the Section 232 investigation into imports of neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnets are due November 12. The Commerce Department announced the Section 232 investigation in September following the Biden administration’s June 100-day supply chain review report, which identified neodymium, a rare earth mineral produced in large part in China, as a key supply chain vulnerability and recommended the agency consider launching a Section 232 investigation. The investigation could lead to tariffs or other import restrictions on magnets used in a variety of military and civilian applications, including fighter jets and electric vehicles.
This represents the first time the Biden administration has initiated an investigation under the Section 232 statute used several times by former President Donald Trump on steel, aluminum, and other goods.
Chamber members with perspective to share are asked to contact Director for International Policy Isabelle Icso (iicso@uschamber.com).
USITC to Hold Hearing on Extending Solar Safeguard Measures
On November 3, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) will hold a hearing on whether to extend relief action currently in place on imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells commonly used in solar panels and other products. In August, the USITC received petitions from companies requesting the extension of the safeguard measures that are set to expire in February 2022 after four years. The original measure was a 30% tariff that was set to decline by 5% annually, but the Trump administration in October 2020 increased the duties to 18% and reinstated tariffs on bifacial solar panels.
China challenged the safeguard action at the World Trade Organization (WTO), but a September panel decision rejected China’s claims that the U.S. measure was inconsistent with its WTO commitments and found that the U.S. investigation and subsequent action were carried out appropriately.
As noted in a Chamber blog post in March, the Biden administration’s climate and “make-it-in-America” goals may clash over this question: “At issue are Biden administration goals to make the U.S. power sector carbon-free by 2035. Energy experts are united in arguing that continued tariffs will increase the cost of a continued solar buildout and undermine the contribution solar can make to the energy transition.”
For further information, please contact Director for International Policy Isabelle Icso (iicso@uschamber.com).
Chamber Supports Lewis for Ex-Im Chair
On October 26, the Senate Banking Committee held a nomination hearing for Reta Jo Lewis to serve as President and Chair of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im). While Ex-Im faced criticism from some traditional opponents of the Bank, specifically Ranking Member Patrick Toomey (R-PA) and Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), the overall tone of the opposition was significantly reduced compared with that of the reauthorization efforts of 2015. The Chamber sent a September 29 letter to the Senate Banking Committee in support of the swift confirmation of the Biden administration’s three pending nominees to Ex-Im’s board in order to get political leadership in place. The Chamber maintains that Ex-Im plays a vital role supporting U.S. exporters by leveling the trade finance playing field for American companies.
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
Icso Joins Chamber as Director for International Policy
Isabelle Icso joined the Chamber’s International Affairs Division this month as Director for International Policy. Icso is well known in Washington’s trade community in part for her work at Inside U.S. Trade from 2016 to early 2021. She holds degrees from the University of Rochester (B.A. in business and international relations with a minor in economics and an M.S. in analytics).
From the Home Front
Statement on Delayed Infrastructure Vote
On October 28, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley issued the following statement regarding the delayed vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
"Once again, the House has failed to take up and approve the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Instead, the American people are left with another short term extension that will slow down much needed investments in transportation infrastructure at a time when China is racing ahead and the World Economic Forum ranks America’s infrastructure 13th in the world.
"Seventy percent of Americans support the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and it deserves a standalone vote on its merits. It is past time for both political parties to put aside their partisan differences and approve a bill that will provide economic growth and improve the quality of life of all Americans.
"Failure to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act means:
NO to broadband access for 14 million Americans;
NO to clean drinking water for 10 million families;
NO to a modern electric grid;
NO to safe highways and bridges; and
NO to the largest ever investment in addressing climate change.
"The Chamber continues to urge the House to finish the job and approve the bipartisan infrastructure bill now."
Commentary (ICYMI)
U.S. Chamber (October 12) by John Murphy
U.S. Chamber (October 11) by John Murphy

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