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U.S. Chamber-Newslatter : International Policy Update (12/17)

20 December 2021 Monday

U.S. Chamber of Commerce
International Policy Update
December 17, 2021
Happy Holidays from the International Affairs Division
Businesses Commit to Central America Investments at Chamber Event with Harris
Final Passage Imminent for Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act
U.S.-Indonesia Investment Summit Looks Toward Recovery
NDAA Passes; Several Amendments of Concern to Business Sidelined
From the Home Front
Chamber Applauds White House Efforts to Increase Opportunity for Underserved Businesses
Businesses Commit to Central America Investments at Chamber Event with Harris
U.S. businesses and social enterprises made commitments of more than $1.2 billion to promote economic opportunity in Northern Central America in a December 13 event with Vice President Kamala Harris co-hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The investments support a broader strategy to address the root causes of migration as part of the “Call to Action” that Harris launched in May. The event was co-hosted by the Chamber and the U.S. Department of State, and in collaboration with the Partnership for Central America (PCA) and the Office of the Vice President.
Following the private sector announcements, Executive Vice President and Head of the International Affairs Division Myron Brilliant stated:
“At a time of great need in Central America, the U.S. business community is stepping up by providing critical resources, capacity, and expertise to support inclusive economic growth in the region.”
Vice President Harris announced the commitments made by CARE International, Cargill, Parkdale Mills, PepsiCo, JDE Peet’s, PriceSmart, Grupo Mariposa, Mastercard, Microsoft, and Nespresso. She stated in her remarks:
“The U.S. has an important role to play in addressing the root causes of migration, at the same time, our government cannot do its work alone. Private sector has a direct and indirect impact, from job creation and financial inclusion to promotion good governance and rule of law.”
The event also featured high-level discussions on devising public-private approaches to addressing root causes of migration and how best to catalyze private investment to grow opportunities in rural communities across Central America.
The U.S. Chamber, its member companies, and partner American Chambers of Commerce in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have been committed to generating economic growth and creating jobs in Northern Central America for decades. This included leading the successful effort in Washington to secure the landmark Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), and partnering with the U.S. government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity for the Northern Triangle to drive private sector engagement and investment in the region.
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for the Americas Neil Herrington (nherrington@uschamber.com).
Final Passage Imminent for Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act
The House on December 14 approved the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act with just a single vote in opposition after Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) reached a consensus on the final text. The Senate is expected to approve the measure, possibly by unanimous consent, later today. White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that President Biden will sign the bill.
Highlights from the final compromise text include:
  • The “rebuttable presumption”—which requires companies to provide “clear and convincing” evidence that any goods imported from Xinjiang are not made with forced labor—will go into effect after 180 days of the bill’s signing (less than the former Senate bill’s 300 days but more than the former House bill’s 120 days).
  • The SEC disclosure requirement (previously included in the House version) was stripped from the final bill.
  • The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforcement strategy will be due in 180 days and still retains all previous provisions from the Senate bill, including a requirement that CBP define what “clear and convincing” means.
For many companies, “clear and convincing” may loom as a high evidentiary bar. That language and the “rebuttable presumption” will figure prominently in any assessment of how the measure will affect a given company’s sourcing in the Asia-Pacific region. Analysts expect a vigorous response from China, possibly after the bill is signed into law.
For further information, please contact the U.S. Chamber’s China Center President Jeremie Waterman (jwaterman@uschamber.com).
U.S.-Indonesia Investment Summit Looks Toward Recovery
As economic recovery becomes a reality despite the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. private sector and Indonesian government met for the 9th Annual U.S.-Indonesia Investment Summit under the theme of “Moving On: Getting Past COVID.” The event convened high-level U.S. and Indonesian government officials and private sector leaders and included virtual and hybrid sessions on December 13-15.
Hosted by AmCham Indonesia and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the summit examined the current business climate in Indonesia, industry adjustments to COVID-19, the Indonesian government’s economic recovery efforts, supply chain resiliency, Indonesia’s role as G20 president in 2022, corresponding B20 engagements and more.
In opening the summit, U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President for Asia Charles Freeman stated:
“This is such an important time for an enhanced U.S.-Indonesia trade and investment relationship. The two countries are strong partners already, and we’ve seen this amplified during the pandemic. The U.S. Chamber is pleased to play a role in promoting Indonesia’s economic potential for U.S. companies and advocate on behalf of those companies to the Indonesian government on trade barriers, innovation, regulatory transparency, structural reforms, and more.”
Managing Director of AmCham Indonesia A Lin Neumann made the following statement:
“The private sector has played an important role in pandemic mitigation and recovery efforts. As we look forward to a more robust economic recovery in 2022, it’s a good time to take stock of the role U.S. companies have played and will play in Indonesia for decades to come.”
U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Sung Kim and Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell gave remarks on behalf of the U.S. government. Other featured speakers included Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto, and Indonesia’s health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, who unveiled a road map for reform of the healthcare system through increased foreign investment.
The summit came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Indonesia. His policy speech during the visit was livestreamed to the summit on December 14. Ahead of that speech, U.S. Chamber Executive Director for Southeast Asia John Goyer and AmCham Indonesia Managing Director Lin Neumann published an op-ed in The Jakarta Post entitled “Indonesia’s wining hand and a better future.”
The summit took place during a time of optimism as U.S.-Indonesia relations are deepening, with high-level visits and bilateral dialogues accelerating. The U.S. business community has further signaled its commitment to Indonesia through the Global Task Force on Pandemic Response, a public-private partnership providing a unified platform for businesses to mobilize and deliver resources to assist COVID-19 efforts across the globe. Efforts in Indonesia have focused on the provision of critical diagnostic equipment and oxygen supplies.
The summit is the flagship event for Initiative Indonesia, a joint venture between AmCham Indonesia and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and it caps a year of programming and advocacy work. Findings from the Initiative’s business missions leading up to the summit focused in particular on healthcare and the information and communications technology sector. These missions and other events help focus the Summit’s agenda.
For further information, please contact Executive Director for Southeast Asia John Goyer (jgoyer@uschamber.com).
NDAA Passes; Several Amendments of Concern to Business Sidelined
On December 15, the U.S. Senate passed a bicameral compromise version of the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022” (NDAA), which authorizes $768 billion for programs to strengthen and advance the National Defense Strategy and ensure that unfunded procurement, research, and readiness priorities of the services are met. The House passed the legislation last week, and President Biden is expected to sign it shortly.
As reported last week, the Chamber engaged repeatedly with lawmakers on a wide variety of issues proposed for inclusion in the package. The Chamber sent letters to Congress — one to the House in September and one to the Senate in November — but also engaged informally with a wide range of legislators on a variety of issues. The Chamber raised objections to several provisions and amendments that were ultimately excluded from the compromise package, including the following:
  • One amendment would have required a CFIUS review of real estate transactions by foreign entities or companies controlled by foreign entities from properties as far away as 100 miles from domestic U.S. military installations. As drafted the measure would have duplicated some existing authorities but also would have required CFIUS to review huge numbers of mundane real estate transactions.
  • Also shelved was a sanction amendment advanced by Rep. Brad Sherman that would have barred U.S. banks from purchasing ruble-denominated bonds. The amendment would have limited the ability of U.S. banks to serve their U.S. corporate clients operating in Russia with little effect on the Russian government or Russian banks.
  • Also not included was language that would have prohibited the sale of products of the sponsors of the Beijing Winter Olympics on military bases, which would harm Team USA athletes and their athletic programming and services while not directly influencing or achieving policy aims or outcomes.
  • The Casey-Cornyn amendment (“The National Critical Capabilities Defense Act“), which would create a USTR-led interagency outbound investment review committee, was also not included in the NDAA. The Chamber argued this measure would create an ill-defined bureaucracy whose labors would be duplicative of those laid out in the recently enacted Export Control Reform Act and burden USTR with responsibilities for which it is ill-equipped. A version of this amendment may well be proposed for inclusion when Congress again takes up “China competition” legislation, i.e., the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) approved in June by the Senate.
Once the compromise was struck, the Chamber sent letters in support of the legislation to the House and Senate. For further information, please contact Director for International Policy Isabelle Icso (iicso@uschamber.com).
From the Home Front
Chamber Applauds White House Efforts to Increase Opportunity for Underserved Businesses
On December 14, Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Outreach Rick Wade released the following statement regarding the Biden Administration announcement of reforms to increase equity and opportunity for underserved small business owners:
“Increasing federal contracting opportunities for underserved businesses not only helps more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams, but also narrows persistent wealth disparities and strengthens the U.S. economy.
“As part of its Equality of Opportunity Initiative, the U.S. Chamber is committed to partnering with the Administration to help strengthen the growth and competitiveness of minority-owned businesses.”
The Administration recently laid out its plan to direct $100 billion in federal contracting and procurement opportunities to small disadvantaged businesses, announcing a set of reforms to the federal procurement process to help meet the President’s target of increasing the share of federal contracts to these businesses. The Chamber supported the codification and strengthening of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) as a key EOI priority.
The U.S. Chamber’s Equality of Opportunity Initiative is working to advance private and public sector solutions to help close race-based opportunity gaps in several key areas including entrepreneurship and wealth. Systemic inequalities in these areas perpetuate broader inequalities in our society, hold back individual and business success, and hinder economic growth.

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