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International Policy Update (5/21)

21 May 2021 Friday

U.S. Chamber of Commerce
International Policy Update
May 21, 2021
Chamber’s Global Forum Charts Course to Economic Recovery
China Package Hits the Senate Floor
Wyden Introduces Trade Preferences and Tariff Relief Bill
U.S., EU Avert Tariff Escalation, Pledge to Address Metals Overcapacity
Business Groups Issue Study on Imports and U.S. Workers
Simões Appointed U.S.-Korea Business Council Chairman​​​​​​​
From the Home Front:
U.S. Chamber Calls on U.S. Government to Act Decisively Against Cyber Threats to Deter Further Attacks
U.S. Chamber Praises Publication of HFC Phasedown Rule
Commentary:
Chamber’s Strategy Pays Off in Wins for the Business Community
Chamber’s Global Forum Charts Course to Economic Recovery
The U.S. Chamber 0n May 18-19 hosted the Global Forum on Economic Recovery, which featured keynote remarks, armchair conversations, and panel discussions with speakers including U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Senior Advisor to the White House COVID Response Team Andy Slavitt, Co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates, heads of state or government from Singapore, Colombia, and Kenya, and over a dozen C-Suite leaders from top U.S. and global businesses. The discussions covered a wide range of topics from pandemic crisis management, unleashing the digital economy, managing the China conundrum and more.
To watch a recording of the two-day event and to view highlights of each session, please click here.
China Package Hits the Senate Floor
On May 18, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed the ‘‘United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) of 2021” as a substitute amendment to the “Endless Frontier Act,” which was advanced out of the Senate Commerce Committee last week. The bill includes more than 20 bipartisan amendments, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s “Strategic Competition Act of 2021,” the Senate Banking Committee’s “Meeting the China Challenge Act of 2021,” as well as bipartisan legislation from the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, HELP Committee, Judiciary Committee, and Appropriations Committee. Notably, the Schumer substitute amendment includes $52 billion in funding to implement the CHIPS for America Act.
Following Schumer’s action, the Senate began a weeks-long “open, bipartisan amendment process” on the floor. More than 200 amendments have been offered to date. However, with no further amendment votes this week, a manager’s package of bipartisan amendments will be assembled over the days ahead, and the Chamber and others will continue to weigh in. Senate leaders may attempt to conclude the process in advance of the Memorial Day weekend.
The Chamber previously welcomed introduction of the Endless Frontier Act and expressed general support for its goal of bolstering U.S. leadership in scientific and technological innovation through increased investments in the discovery, creation, and commercialization of the future’s technology fields. The Chamber is engaging with Senate leadership and offices as a number of provisions and amendments—which range from good or bad to indifferent in the Chamber’s view—are considered for inclusion. Member companies are encouraged to share their views and concerns with Chamber staff.
Schumer made the following statement regarding the legislation:
“The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 will jumpstart American competitiveness and make one of the most significant government investments in American innovation and manufacturing in generations. I’m proud that this bipartisan legislation is the product of hard work from more than a half-dozen Senate committees and includes input from nearly every member of the Senate. This legislation will allow the United States to out-compete countries like China in critical technologies like semiconductors, create good-paying American jobs and help improve our country’s economic and national security.”
Additionally, Majority Leader Schumer and Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced on May 19 an amendment to the package that they said would counter “trade cheating” by China and other nations. The “Combating Oppressive and Manipulative Policies that Endanger Trade and Economic Security (COMPETES) Act of 2021” strengthens the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) and Customs and Border Patrol’s (CBP) enforcement efforts to address forced labor, censorship, counterfeit goods, intellectual property violations, and other anti-competitive practices.
This amendment comes after a breakdown in discussions between Finance Committee Democrats and Republicans, which ultimately led to a committee package not being incorporated into the substitute amendment. The COMPETES Act contains provisions that were under bipartisan discussion. These talks also included an effort to reauthorize and reform the General System of Preferences (GSP), approval and extension of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, and provisions related to the 301 exclusion process (see more below).
Wyden issued the following statement:
“The COMPETES Act strikes right at the heart of China’s anti-competitive and morally abhorrent labor, environmental and digital practices. The U.S. government needs to slam the door on products produced with these unfair practices. This amendment reflects both the clear strategic challenge posed by China, and our collective faith that if the playing field is level American workers will out-compete and out-innovate China.”
Some notable trade-related amendments that have been offered or are under discussion include: an amendment to include an updated version of Senator Pat Toomey’s (R-PA) bill to require Congressional approval of Section 232 actions, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman’s (R-OH) “Eliminating Global Market Distortions to Protect American Jobs Act,” Chairman Wyden’s “Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Surveillance Act,” and others.
For further information, please contact Senior Director for International Policy Kris Denzel (kdenzel@uschamber.com).
Wyden Introduces Trade Preferences and Tariff Relief Bill
On May 18, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the “American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2021” to update and reauthorize three expired trade programs: the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), and the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act (AMCA). As mentioned above, the reauthorization of these programs was under consideration to be tied to the larger Senate China legislation. This bill was “hotlined” in the Senate on May 20. Much like the discussion above, the situation remains fluid and an amendment could be offered concerning GSP and MTB to the USICA. The updates to the three programs are as follows:
  • GSP: Extends duty-free access on goods from eligible countries under GSP until 2027, with a retroactive start date of December 31, 2021. It also makes changes to GSP eligibility criteria, including additions on human rights, women’s economic empowerment, labor, environment, the rule of law, and digital trade. Finally, it codifies a regular country review process and requires a study from the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) on GSP utilization rates, rules of origin, and article eligibility rules.
  • MTB: Authorizes the MTB, which will reduce or eliminate duties on more than 1,400 goods through the end of 2023 and be retroactive for four months.
  • AMCA: Reauthorizes the AMCA, which gives the USITC authority to conduct the MTB petition, review, and recommendation process for two cycles starting in 2022 and 2025.
Wyden made the following statement upon the bill’s introduction:
“This legislation is an economic win-win. It boosts developing countries that meet human rights, labor and environmental standards, and it’s a major benefit for American manufacturers, including hundreds in Oregon. In particular, I want to thank Senator Carper for his work to include environmental criteria, Senator Cardin for his work to include criteria on human rights and the rule of law, and Senators Casey and Cortez Masto for their work on women’s economic empowerment and labor. These updated criteria will help export American values to the developing world.”
On May 20, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) filed an amendment titled the “Trade Act of 2021” that includes renewal language for GSP and MTB that is identical to that in Chairman Wyden’s bill. The legislation also includes provisions to restart the Section 301 exclusion process, some elements of Wyden’s “COMPETES Act,” and the establishment of an inspector general at USTR. Ranking Member Crapo has stated this amendment reflects a bipartisan agreement reached in the Finance Committee before it was ultimately not included in the USICA.
Ranking Member Crapo also led seventeen of his Senate Republican colleagues in introducing an amendment to the USICA that would reinforce congressional oversight over the administration’s decision to support negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for a TRIPS waiver for Covid-19 vaccines. Crapo’s amendment guarantees the administration a congressional vote on its waiver proposal provided it (1) consults with Congress; (2) actually facilitates global vaccine access while not compromising U.S. national security—as determined by the Administration’s own agencies; and (3) does not extend to Russia or China.
The Chamber has long advocated for renewal of GSP and MTB, emphasizing the positive impacts these two programs have on U.S. businesses, workers, and consumers. The Chamber also strongly opposes the TRIPS waiver decision. We welcome feedback on these changes as Congress considers next steps for the GSP bill.
For further information, please contact Senior Director for International Policy Kris Denzel (kdenzel@uschamber.com).
U.S., EU Avert Tariff Escalation, Pledge to Address Metals Overcapacity
On May 17, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis released a joint statement announcing the start of discussions to address global steel and aluminum excess capacity, a large share of which analysts attribute to Chinese subsidies. The announcement follows a virtual meeting last week in which U.S. and EU leaders agreed to “chart a path” to end to their WTO dispute over the U.S. Section 232 tariffs on imports of European steel and aluminum before year’s end. Notably, the EU agreed to postpone tariff escalation of its retaliatory duties on U.S. goods, which were set to double on June 1.
The joint statement reads in part:
“As the United States and EU Member States are allies and partners, sharing similar national security interests as democratic, market economies, they can partner to promote high standards, address shared concerns, and hold countries like China that support trade-distorting policies to account.”
“To ensure the most constructive environment for these joint efforts, [both sides] agreed to avoid changes on these issues [e.g., raising tariffs] that negatively affect bilateral trade.”
Several days earlier the Chamber reiterated its calls for a solution to the issue and noted that cooperative measures to address overcapacity as well as concerns about transshipments and possible import surges could boost confidence and facilitate rescission of the U.S. tariffs and foreign retaliation. While this week’s announcement is a welcome development averting further harm to American workers and companies, the Chamber urges the administration to go further and rescind the Section 232 tariffs. Following the joint announcement, Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy wrote in a tweet: “Yesterday the US and EU agreed to talks to address global steel overcapacity, and the EU froze for 6 months its threatened doubling of duties. But the status quo of 25% EU tariffs on 200 kinds of US exports from spirits to Harleys is hurting tens of thousands of US workers.”
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
Business Groups Issue Study on Imports and U.S. Workers
On May 20, the U.S. Chamber joined eight other business organizations to release “Imports Work for American Workers,” an economic impact study which found that imports support more than 21 million American jobs.
The study focuses on the net impact of imports on U.S. jobs — including statistics on sectors, such as retail, apparel, transportation, manufacturing and consumer technology. The study also looks at how imports support jobs in states across the U.S. and the trade policy initiatives pending before Congress and the administration with the potential to preserve or diminish import-related jobs. Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy stated the following upon the study’s release:
“American workers derive big benefits from trade, and that includes imports as well as exports. Imported materials and components help U.S. manufacturers hone their competitive edge, grow their operations, and create good jobs. American workers at the most productive, efficient, and export-ready companies almost always depend on imports to some degree. Workers in sectors from transportation and warehousing to retail and many other sectors benefit from access to imports, as do American consumers.”
Among the key findings:
  • Imports support more than 21 million American jobs across the country, including a net positive number in every U.S. state. The 10 states accounting for the largest number of import-related jobs are California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
  • Imports from key trading partners — including Canada, China, the European Union and Mexico — support a net positive number of U.S. jobs.
  • Import-related jobs are good jobs that pay competitive wages. Nearly 8 million of the jobs related to importing are held by minorities and 2.5 million jobs are held by workers represented by unions.
  • The vast majority (96 percent) of companies that import are small or medium-sized businesses.
  • U.S. trade policies, many now pending before Congress and the Administration, have the potential to both support and hurt these jobs.
The American Apparel and Footwear Association, the American Chemistry Council, the Consumer Technology Association, the National Foreign Trade Council, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Fashion Industry Association, and the U.S. Global Value Chain Coalition commissioned the study, which was prepared by Laura M. Baughman and Dr. Joseph F. Francois of Trade Partnership Worldwide, LLC.
The study is being released during “World Trade Week” to highlight the essential role that imports play in the U.S. and global economy.
View the full report here.
Simões Appointed U.S.-Korea Business Council Chairman
On May 14, the U.S. Chamber’s U.S.-Korea Business Council (USKBC) announced that Octávio Simões, president and chief executive officer of Tellurian Inc., has been elected chairman of the USKBC for a two-year term (2021-2022). Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs at the U.S. Chamber Myron Brilliant stated the following upon the announcement:
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is delighted to welcome Octávio Simões, president and CEO of Tellurian Inc., as the USKBC’s new chairman. We look forward to working with him to strengthen the U.S.-Korea economic and commercial relationship. Octávio brings a wealth of leadership, insight, and vision to his role as incoming USKBC chairman. His management and international business development experience and knowledge of the Korean market will play a pivotal role as he leads the Council’s advocacy agenda to enhance economic opportunities for U.S. companies.”
For further information, please contact Executive Director of the U.S.-Korea Business Council Esperanza Jelalian (ejelalian@uschamber.com).
From the Home Front
U.S. Chamber Calls on U.S. Government to Act Decisively Against Cyber Threats to Deter Further Attacks
On May 21, Senior Vice President for Cyber, Intelligence, and Supply Chain Security Policy Christopher Roberti made the following statement calling for government action to deter future cyberattacks:
“Today thousands of businesses will be successfully attacked by criminal gangs using ransomware. The average downtime due to an attack is 21 days and on average it takes a business 287 days to fully recover from an attack. Enough is enough. Businesses are outnumbered and law enforcement doesn’t have the resources to keep up.
“It is time for the U.S. Government to act decisively against these criminal cyber attackers and stop them from operating with impunity. Cybercriminals must be put on notice that attacks on our country and economy will not be tolerated. The U.S. and allied governments must work together with the private sector to confront these challenges head on. It is time for our government to utilize its full range of capabilities – including criminal and cyber – to take the fight to these cyber gangs.”
Today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is calling on the administration and Congress to, among other steps:
  1. Update a national signaling strategy to communicate through diplomatic and other channels that ransomware attacks, especially on critical infrastructure, are an enforcement and national defense priority.
  2. Disrupt international ransomware payments systems.
  3. Enhance international law enforcement resources.
  4. Establish an international coalition to combat ransomware.
  5. Enhance capabilities for malware detection, sandboxing and analysis, and information sharing.
  6. Establish a Cyber Response and Recovery Fund for victims of cybercrime.
U.S. Chamber Praises Publication of HFC Phasedown Rule
President of the U.S. Chamber's Global Energy Institute Marty Durbin issued the following statement on May 21 regarding the publication of regulations to implement provisions of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020:
“The U.S. Chamber is pleased that EPA has advanced the phasedown of HFCs by publishing the proposed AIM Act allocation rule. The effort to reduce HFCs will not only create new jobs for American manufacturers, but will also dramatically reduce a significant source of emissions that contribute to climate change. We look forward to working with EPA as the agency moves forward with the development of the rule. It is an important next step in continuing American leadership in this sector and supporting efforts to address the climate challenge.”
Commentary
From Chamber on the Record, U.S. Chamber (May 17)

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