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International Policy Update (9/17)

19 September 2021 Sunday

U.S. Chamber of Commerce
International Policy Update
September 17, 2021
Chamber Underscores Importance of U.S.-China Dialogue
Business Groups Urge USTR to Lead on Digital Trade
Global Task Force Continues Pandemic Response in Southeast Asia
Chamber Encourages Brazil to Accelerate Climate Action
White House Announces Commerce, Ex-Im Bank, USTR Nominees
From the Home Front
Chamber Strongly Opposes House Democrats’ Reconciliation Tax Proposal
Chamber Applauds H-1B Visa Ruling
Chamber Foundation Launches Coalition for Afghan Refugee Employment in the U.S.
First Lady Jill Biden Speaks at Launch of Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone Focused on Remote Work
Commentary
Inside the FTC’s Ploy to Quash A BioTech Merger
Overhaul of U.S. Sanctions Policy Toward Venezuela is Long Overdue
Chamber Underscores Importance of U.S.-China Dialogue
On September 9, President Biden and President Xi Jinping spoke via phone in an effort to address rising U.S.-China tensions, which U.S. officials are concerned may threaten cooperation on issues such as climate change. According to a White House readout, the pair “discussed areas where our interests converge, and areas where our interests, values, and perspectives diverge,” and “the responsibility of both nations to ensure competition does not veer into conflict.”
Following the call, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant’s made public comments highlighting the need for sustained, high-level dialogue to reduce U.S.-China tensions and move forward in areas of cooperation. His comments were featured in multiple news outlets (New York TimesWashington PostWall Street Journal, subscriptions required). In the Washington Post article, he stated:
“The political will to overcome tensions in the relationship while forging a productive path on areas of mutual interest — including addressing the pandemic, climate and economic uncertainty — can only be accomplished at this stage by the two leaders talking. It’s encouraging, but it needs to be reinforced with concrete steps which will be hard but welcomed by the business community.”
Additionally, on September 10, senior officials, including U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, met to discuss a potential new Section 301 investigation into Chinese subsidies and their impact on the U.S. economy. The conversations also included enforcement of the Phase One deal and the renewal of a tariff exclusion process for the Trump-era Section 301 tariffs.
In August, the Chamber co-led a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Ambassador Tai urging the Biden administration “to redouble efforts with China to meet Phase One purchase and structural commitments; restart a tariff exclusion process to mitigate damage to U.S. workers and other stakeholders; and increase broader economic and trade engagement to address structural concerns that will further open China’s market and level the playing field for U.S. goods and services.” The letter offers further detail on the structural economic issues in China of priority to the U.S. business community, including state subsidies. It also underscores “the tariffs’ significant and ongoing harm to the U.S. economy, U.S. workers, and U.S. national competitiveness.”
For further information, please U.S. Chamber China Center President Jeremie Waterman (jwaterman@uschamber.com).
Business Groups Urge USTR to Lead on Digital Trade
On September 10, the U.S. Chamber joined 17 other business groups in a letter urging U.S. Trade Representative Katherine 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. The letter also highlights the digital transformation and rapid growth of the Indo-Pacific region, which presents numerous market opportunities for U.S. companies. It concludes:
“Developing inclusive digital trade rules with trusted partners in the Indo-Pacific, whether by leading in the development of a new plurilateral agreement or pursuing the expansion of existing agreements, should be a critical element within a broader U.S. trade agenda to counter protectionist digital economy trends, safeguard the interests of U.S. workers, and bolster U.S. political, strategic, and economic equities and opportunities in the region. We therefore respectfully urge you to prioritize engagement with Indo-Pacific economies to advance such rules and re-assert U.S. leadership on trade policy in this strategically important region.”
The letter reiterates a number of points Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy made in a recent 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) or Executive Director for Southeast Asia John Goyer (jgoyer@uschamber.com).
Global Task Force Continues Pandemic Response in Southeast Asia
The Global Task Force on Pandemic Response (GTF), a public-private partnership of major U.S. companies organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with support from Business Roundtable, announced on September 16 that it will help strengthen Indonesia and Southeast Asia’s diagnostic capacity as they continue to battle against major COVID-19 outbreaks. This follows the GTF’s earlier announcement made in August of its commitment to mobilize to support pandemic relief in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
The GTF will assist Indonesia by procuring PCR test equipment, rapid antigen tests that can easily be deployed across the country, and genomic sequencing equipment to help identify COVID-19 variants.
This work is possible with generous support from Microsoft, Accenture and Deloitte with more companies expected to contribute to a $10 million fund for diagnostics equipment in Southeast Asia.
The GTF is in discussions with manufacturers to confirm adequate supply for the region at competitive prices. The Indonesian government officials, local NGOs, and U.S. government representatives are coordinating to ensure solutions that provide immediate impact.
Testing, oxygen supplies, and hospital capacity are insufficient across Southeast Asia, which is experiencing a major COVID-19 outbreak; in August, Indonesia was the global epicentre of the pandemic, which continues to surge across Southeast Asia at rates previously unseen.
The GTF is working in the region in partnership with the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC), the American Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (AICC) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia (AmCham Indonesia).
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation also offers a COVID-19 Business Response portal, a platform for U.S. businesses to offer essential in-kind products and services needed outside of the United States. Visit the portal to review a list of critically needed supplies or offer in-kind donations to support Indonesia’s pandemic response.
For more information on the Global Task Force’s work, please visit pandemictaskforce.org.
Chamber Encourages Brazil to Accelerate Climate Action
On September 13, the U.S. Chamber sent a letter to Brazilian Minister of Foreign Relations Carlos França and Minister of Environment Joaquim Leite urging the government of Brazil to take concrete actions to meet its environmental commitments. Those commitments were announced by President Jair Bolsonaro earlier this year during the Leaders’ Summit on Climate in Washington. The letter encouraged the Bolsonaro administration to officially revise Brazil’s climate commitments under the Paris Agreement to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The letter also urged the government of Brazil to provide global investors a viable strategy and roadmap to meet climate commitments, ensure the enforcement and allocation of resources for forest protection, and continue sustainability focused dialogues with the business community.
For further information, please contact the U.S. Chamber’s Brazil-U.S. Business Council Executive Director Cassia Carvalho (ccarvalho@uschamber.com).
White House Announces Commerce, Ex-Im Bank, USTR Nominees
On September 13, President Biden announced his intent to fill several key international trade and economic posts. The Chamber recognizes the importance of swiftly filling these and other agency vacancies in order to demonstrate U.S. leadership and get to work on many of the global economic issues facing the business community.
  • Reta Jo Lewis was nominated to be President and Chair of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Earlier in her career, she served at the State Department under Secretary Hillary Clinton. Lewis 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.
  • Maria ‘Marisa’ Lago was nominated to be Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade at the Department of Commerce. She is currently the Director of the New York City Department of City Planning and previously served in the Obama administration as the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development.
  • Elaine Trevino was nominated to be Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. She is currently President of the Almond Alliance of California and previously served as a Deputy Secretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture under Governors Schwarzenegger and Davis.
  • Jed Kolko was nominated to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs at the Department of Commerce. He has served as the Chief Economist at Indeed and Trulia.
From the Home Front
Chamber Strongly Opposes House Democrats’ Reconciliation Tax Proposal
On September 13, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley released the following statement after House Democrats released text of their reconciliation tax proposal:
“Rolling back job-creating tax reforms will slam the brakes on hiring and wage increases. Every CEO and business leader is concerned about this proposal, and the Chamber strongly opposes it. This reconciliation bill is an existential threat to America’s fragile economic recovery and future prosperity.
“This is an everything but the kitchen sink bill that includes every policy idea the majority has been unable to pass. We will not find durable or practical solutions in one massive bill that is equivalent to more than twice the combined budgets of all 50 states. The success of the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations provides a much better model for how Congress should proceed in addressing America’s problems.”
Chamber Applauds H-1B Visa Ruling
On September 16, Vice President of Immigration Policy Jon Baselice released the following statement on the recent ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in Chamber of Commerce v. DHS over H-1B visa restrictions:
“This is a major victory for American businesses and our economy. If implemented, the H-1B lottery rule would have denied many companies access to the talent they need to expand their operations and create American jobs. Given the significant difficulties that employers face in meeting their workforce needs today, many businesses are breathing a sigh of relief in response to this ruling.”
Chamber Foundation Launches Coalition for Afghan Refugee Employment in the U.S.
On September 15, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation announced the formation of the Coalition for Afghan Refugee Employment in the U.S. in partnership with the nation’s leading businesses as America welcomes tens of thousands of Afghan refugees. American employers including Amazon, UPS, and Walmart are stepping up to join the Coalition and offer these refugees one of the most essential tools for resettlement, security, and opportunity: a job.
The Coalition will harness the capabilities and networks of the Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center and Hiring Our Heroes initiative. Aided by the Foundation’s unparalleled ability to convene employers for greater collective impact in communities across the country, the Coalition aims to connect tens of thousands of Afghan refugees with the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s network of employers and employment readiness services over the next six months.
President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Carolyn Cawley made the following statement:
“At the Foundation, we know what a job means to an individual and to a community. It means dignity, opportunity, stability and hope for a better future. Helping meet the urgent needs of Afghan refugees will require all hands to work together. Through this effort, we’re proud to bring American businesses together to fill a critical need – supporting the resilience and financial independence of Afghan refugees who are starting a new life in the U.S.”
First Lady Jill Biden Speaks at Launch of Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone Focused on Remote Work
On September 15, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes, the leader in identifying and providing solutions to military spouse un- and under-employment, launched a new initiative focused on remote work opportunities.
The Remote Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone (MSEEZ) is a collective framework for businesses offering remote employment opportunities to military spouses. These businesses and community partners will work together to identify opportunities as well as barriers to entry for military spouses seeking employment via the hire, train, and advocate pillars.
First Lady Jill Biden, a military mother and grandmother and longtime military family advocate, kicked off this groundbreaking effort:
“A recent study showed that 8 out of 10 military spouses said remote work was the ideal career situation. For families it means mom or dad doesn’t have to start over at each duty station and for employers remote work helps retain these workers, even if they are relocated.”
Since 2018, Hiring Our Heroes has launched more than 20 MSEEZ to combat the economic impact military spouse unemployment and underemployment have on the 21st-century military families by facilitating collaboration between local and national employers, educational institutions, and community resources.
Commentary
From “Above the Fold,” U.S. Chamber (September 10) by Sean Heather
From “Above the Fold,” U.S. Chamber (September 9) by Neil Herrington
This e-mail was sent to chairman@amcham.org and contains information directly related to your subscription profile.
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