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International Affairs Division, U.S. Chamber Newsletter-Policy Update (10/1)

4 October 2021 Monday

U.S. Chamber of Commerce
International Policy Update
October 1, 2021
U.S., EU Talk Trade, Technology in Pittsburgh
WTO Talks on Services Domestic Regulation Concluded
Chamber Supports Export-Import Bank Nominees
USTR Extends Section 301 Tariff Exclusions on Medical Products
Commerce Department Announces Section 232 Investigation on Magnet Imports
Commentary
Germany Has Voted: What Does it Mean for American Business?
U.S., EU Talk Trade, Technology in Pittsburgh
The United States and the European Union on September 29 held the inaugural meeting of their bilateral Trade and Technology Council (TTC) in Pittsburgh, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with European Commission Executive Vice Presidents Valdis Dombrovskis and Margrethe Vestager to discuss the TTC’s work since its establishment in June.
The group released a joint statement on concrete outcomes the two sides hope to achieve in five areas: global trade challenges, semiconductor supply chains, foreign direct investment screening, export controls, and artificial intelligence. The statement also outlined focus areas for each of the TTC’s ten working groups to carry forward by the next meeting, which is expected in spring 2022. Notably, the two sides pledged to take short-term steps to tackle the global semiconductor shortage and “focus on challenges from non-market economic policies and practices.” (Read the full joint statement and fact sheet here.)
U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant welcomed the meetings in a statement:
“Companies on both sides of the Atlantic enthusiastically support the launch of this new platform. We must use it to develop common approaches to tackle challenges such as climate change and pandemic recovery, collaborate on new standards for emerging technologies, remove barriers to bilateral trade and investment, and bolster our competitiveness in the face of growing challenges from non-market economies. We must overcome differences in our approaches and work together wherever possible on this forward-looking agenda. Finally, we should also resolve immediate priorities that include providing legal certainty for data flows and lifting the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs.”
Brilliant also previewed the TTC with an op-ed for Barron’s (“Data Drives the Trans-Atlantic Economy. Can the U.S. and Europe See Eye to Eye?”) on the importance of transatlantic data flows and the challenges posed by EU digital policy proposals such as the Digital Markets Act (DMA). He wrote in part: “Every item on the TTC agenda is connected to data flows. Without progress on this front, the TTC risks being undermined before its real work begins. As fellow democracies that value consumer privacy and share national security concerns, Brussels and Washington must agree on a new deal quickly.”
Ahead of the meeting, the Chamber also developed a list of core principles and policy priorities to guide the Council and the work of its 10 working groups. The document supports the TTC as a platform to develop common approaches to shared challenges, collaborate on new standards for emerging technologies, enhance bilateral trade and investment, and bolster our competitiveness. It also identifies areas that may fall outside the remit of the TTC that require immediate attention, including restoring legal certainty to data flows between the U.S. and EU and lifting the Section 232 tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum and associated EU countermeasures.
In a joint press release, the U.S. Chamber and BusinessEurope welcomed the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council as an opportunity for transatlantic collaboration to set standards for new technologies, foster common approaches to global challenges like climate change, sustainable finance, WTO reform, and tackle overcapacity and unfair industrial subsidies.
Senior Vice President for Europe Marjorie Chorlins was quoted in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) commenting on the historical complexity of U.S. - EU relations: “The trans-Atlantic relationship has always been complicated… The challenges run deeper than the deterioration that occurred during the last administration.”
The Chamber will continue to engage in advocacy surrounding the TTC and broader U.S.-EU relationship, including hosting meetings with the European Commission and U.S. government. For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for European Affairs Marjorie Chorlins (mchorlins@uschamber.com).
WTO Talks on Services Domestic Regulation Concluded
On September 27, negotiations on the text of the WTO Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on Services Domestic Regulation (SDR) successfully concluded, becoming what will be a sure deliverable for the 12th Ministerial Conference beginning November 30. The text includes new disciplines in areas including licensing, qualifications assessments, transparency, and procedures for services suppliers. It also includes a voluntary set of alternative disciplines on financial services and an optional provision requiring non-discrimination between genders in authorization procedures for service suppliers.
The Chamber co-signed an August letter with the United States Council for International Business and the National Foreign Trade Council thanking U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai for the U.S. decision to become a full participant in WTO negotiations on the JSI on SDR. The letter called the move “an important step in facilitating trade in the services sector which has been disproportionately encumbered by burdensome, unpredictable and opaque regulatory regimes” and urged the U.S. to “work with like-minded countries to engage other JSI participants to apply the proposed disciplines to services sectors where no specific commitments have yet been made.”
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
Chamber Supports Export-Import Bank Nominees
On September 29, the Chamber sent a letter to the Senate Banking Committee in support of the Biden administrations nominees to the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im). The letter expressed support for Judith DelZoppo Pryor as First Vice President and Owen Herrnstadt as a Member of the Board of Directors, both of whom appeared before the Senate Banking Committee on September 30.
That hearing proceeded along predictable lines, with Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) expressing support for the Bank and Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-PA) sharing his long-held critical views. The Chamber maintains that Ex-Im plays a vital role supporting U.S. exporters by leveling the trade finance playing field for American companies.
Additionally, the Chamber’s letter voiced support for Reta Jo Lewis as President and Chair. Lewis previously served as Vice President and Counselor to the President at the U.S. Chamber, where she led the Chamber’s initiatives focused on fostering strategic alliances between small businesses, especially women and minority-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, and executives.
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
USTR Extends Section 301 Tariff Exclusions on Medical Products
On September 27, USTR announced a 45-day extension of Section 301 exclusions on medical goods through November 14. The agency had already extended the tariff exemptions on Chinese-made products for six months and announced in August that it would evaluate further extension requests on a case-by-case basis rather than granting a full renewal. USTR will use the 45-day period to determine which products will continue to receive tariff exemptions. The Trump administration originally exempted 99 categories of medical goods from China that faced tariffs under Section 301 in order to provide relief during the pandemic.
The Chamber has conveyed its support for the tariff exclusions and, along with other business organizations, has recommended the administration suspend all tariffs (both most-favored nation and Section 301 tariffs) on the broader list of medical supplies identified by the U.S. International Trade Commission in its December 2020 report on Supply Chain Challenges for COVID-19 Related Goods. The Chamber has urged that these suspensions be effective for the duration of the pandemic and at least through the end of 2021.
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
Commerce Department Announces Section 232 Investigation on Magnet Imports
On September 24, the Department of Commerce announced a Section 232 investigation into imports of neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnets over national security concerns. The announcement follows the Biden administration’s 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 Commerce Department 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. Commerce Secretary Raimondo stated the following upon the announcement:
“The Department of Commerce is committed to securing our supply chains to protect our national security, economic security, and technological leadership. Consistent with President Biden’s directive to strengthen our supply chains and encourage investments to shore up our domestic production, the Department initiated a Section 232 investigation on imports of NdFeB permanent magnets to determine whether U.S. reliance on imports for this critical product is a threat to our national security.”
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
Commentary
From “Above the Fold,” U.S. Chamber (September 29) by Marjorie Chorlins
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