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U.S. Chamber Newsletter-International Policy Update (5/27)

6 June 2022 Monday

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

International Policy Update

May 27, 2022

Biden Launches Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

Chamber Celebrates a Century of U.S.-Egypt Ties, Pledges Continued Partnership

Chamber Hosts New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern

Blinken Outlines U.S. Policy Toward China in Long-Awaited Speech

From the Home Front

Chamber Statement on the Revised American Innovation and Choice Online Act

Commentary

World Bank Aims to Hone Business Environment for the Digital Age

South Korea Considers Additional Network Fees for Foreign Content Providers, Raising Concerns under KORUS

Biden Launches Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

On May 23, the Biden administration launched the long-awaited Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) with a dozen initial partners, which include Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam as well as the United States (see the White House Fact Sheet).

At the launch event in Tokyo, President Biden was joined in-person by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and virtually by the leaders of the other ten partner countries. The president was also joined by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, whose agencies are leading the negotiations.

The thirteen parties will begin by holding consultations before the governments decide which pillars they will join. While the framework will be open for other countries to join, the Biden administration hopes to start substantive negotiations by mid-June.

Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant issued the following statement on the administration’s launch of the IPEF:

“The Indo-Pacific holds vast promise as the region’s dynamic economic growth is allowing millions to join the global middle class. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce previously provided the Biden Administration with several priorities that American companies would like to see addressed in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, including digital trade, customs reforms, sustainability, and supply chains. We are engaging closely with the administration and regional economies to advance these goals.

“Some questions remain. It’s disappointing that the IPEF does not currently provide new access to foreign markets for American workers, farmers and companies, and it’s hard to see how it can be enforceable without such a provision. This framework seems bound to fall short of the high standards and robust benefits of the U.S. trade agreements negotiated with several regional economies, including Australia, Korea, and Singapore. In some instances, the administration is trying to use trade policy tools to achieve goals that would be better addressed by domestic policy reforms. Regardless, it’s a positive step toward strengthening economic ties in the region, and we are rolling up our sleeves to work with the administration to maximize the IPEF’s potential.”

The Chamber in April submitted comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of Commerce outlining suggested points for inclusion in the four pillars – (1) fair and resilient trade, (2) supply chain resilience, (3) infrastructure, clean energy, and decarbonization, and (4) tax and anti-corruption. The Chamber encouraged the administration to act quickly on IPEF, draw on trade disciplines the U.S. has developed in other contexts, take advantage of IPEF’s flexible framework to achieve desired outcomes, and engage with public and private stakeholders.

For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for Asia Charles Freeman (cfreeman@uschamber.com).

Chamber Celebrates a Century of U.S.-Egypt Ties, Pledges Continued Partnership

On May 25, the U.S. Chamber’s President and CEO Suzanne Clark hosted the Prime Minister of Egypt, H.E. Mostafa Madbouly, for a virtual roundtable celebrating a century of U.S.-Egypt relations and pledging continued cooperation between the two countries, especially in achieving global climate and energy solutions. H.E. Prime Minister Madbouly and Suzanne Clark were joined by key Egyptian officials as well as business leaders from the U.S. Chamber’s U.S.-Egypt Business Council, including John Christmann, the chair of the Council and President and CEO of Apache Corporation.

Clark stated:

“We look forward to bringing more U.S. businesses to Egypt to explore the economic and environmental benefits private sector technologies and services can offer.

“The American business community is committed to supporting Egypt’s aspirations to be a regional hub for energy—and to help to meet the imperatives of both energy security and energy transition. The U.S. Chamber and this council look forward to partnering with the Egyptian government in this effort—as well as other initiatives related to digital transformation, health care, and more.

“So, as we celebrate one century of diplomatic ties between our two nations at this critical moment for the world, we do so with a fierce commitment to ensuring the next 100 years create even more opportunity and prosperity than the last.”

With Egypt serving as the host to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November, the roundtable occurred amid deepening collaboration between the U.S. Chamber and Egypt in confronting the climate challenge and increasing access to reliable, affordable energy needed for economic growth and development. Notably, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry joined the U.S. Chamber and U.S. Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry at the Chamber’s “Building Momentum to COP27” forum held in January.

Last week, the U.S. Chamber, in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, led a GreenTech Business Delegation to Cairo to explore investment opportunities in Egypt’s green economy. The Delegation connected 75 business executives from 40 companies with a host of Egyptian ministries and companies. The U.S. government was also well represented with representatives from seven U.S. agencies. During the visit, two private sector MOUs were signed, with additional opportunities in development. The U.S. Chamber will also play a leading role in organizing the business community’s participation in COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

For further information, please contact Vice President for Middle East Affairs Steve Lutes (slutes@uschamber.com).

Chamber Hosts New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern

On May 24, the U.S. Chamber and Blackrock co-hosted a lunch and business discussion with New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in New York — the first stop on Ardern’s visit to the United States. U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant led the discussion, along with Blackrock CEO Larry Fink, which featured remarks by Prime Minister Ardern and a conversation with attendees that covered sustainability, the newly announced Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), security concerns in the Indo-Pacific region, and more. Prime Minister Ardern is leading a trade mission with several stops across the country.

Brilliant was quoted in a number of outlets including the New Zealand HeraldStuff, and Radio New Zealand on the discussion with Prime Minister Ardern.

For further information, please contact Executive Director for Southeast Asia John Goyer (jgoyer@uschamber.com).

Blinken Outlines U.S. Policy Toward China in Long-Awaited Speech

On May 26, Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a highly-anticipated address outlining the Biden administration’s policy toward China. In the remarks, Secretary Blinken appealed to U.S. industry to take national security interests into account when assessing trade and investment decisions. “We believe, and we expect the business community to understand, that the price of admission to China's market must not be the sacrifice of our core values, or long-term competitive and technological advantages,” Blinken said.

At the same time, the U.S. will continue to push back against China’s non-market economic policies and strengthen alliances with like-minded partners to address these concerns. Additionally, Secretary Blinken emphasized that while the administration has set the objective of reducing U.S. dependence on China for many critical products, the U.S. does not intend to pursue full decoupling. Watch the speech and read the remarks here.

On the related issue of the U.S. Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods, USTR General Counsel Greta Peisch joined a Georgetown Law Center event earlier this week in which she suggested that a Section 301 tariff exclusion process could occur during (or before the end of) the agency’s statutory review of the Trump-era duties. While the review is expected to last several months, the Biden administration is facing increased pressure to take steps to provide quick relief for families and businesses hit hard by inflation.

Congress is also wrestling with the Section 301 tariff relief issue. On May 25, A bipartisan group of senators led by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) sent a letter to President Biden urging the administration to leave Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods in place. The senators argue that tariffs are not a driver of today’s inflation and state that rolling back tariffs would only “undermine the U.S. position in negotiations, expose many U.S. companies and workers to a sudden flood of imports, and signal to China that waiting out the U.S. is preferable to changing their nonmarket behavior.” The letter encourages the use of enforcement tools under the Phase One Agreement to “make clear to China that dialogue leads to commitments—and failure to adhere to these commitments are followed by robust enforcement.”

The letter is mute on the expired status of the Phase One Agreement it invokes, the questionable utility of the tariffs as leverage (given that they are taxes paid by Americans and do not appear to discomfit the Chinese government), and the inert state of U.S.-China negotiations where any such leverage — if it could be found — might be exercised.

From the Home Front

Chamber Statement on the Revised American Innovation and Choice Online Act

On May 26, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley issued the following statement after the revised “American Innovation and Choice Online Act” was introduced in the Senate:

“This legislation would irreparably harm the American economy and innovation. It fails to address bipartisan concerns that it would undermine our national security, cybersecurity, privacy, and international competitiveness—and harm consumers. Such an approach will fuel further inflation, limit choices, and undermine investment in innovation by injecting regulatory uncertainty into the marketplace at the worst possible time.

“Moreover, last minute cosmetic tweaks to address the bill’s well-documented shortcomings are woefully insufficient. Instead, the sponsors have rushed ahead intentionally avoiding any hearings to thoughtfully evaluate the bill. American innovators and businesses of all sizes deserve better. The legislation is too consequential to not have been properly vetted as it seeks to remake an entire tech ecosystem that has made the United States the envy of the world. But it won’t just impact the tech sector—it seeks to upend the role of antitrust in an effort to give government sweeping authority to regulate entire industries and micro-manage our economy.”

Commentary

World Bank Aims to Hone Business Environment for the Digital Age

U.S. Chamber (May 20) by Gary Litman

South Korea Considers Additional Network Fees for Foreign Content Providers, Raising Concerns under KORUS

U.S. Chamber (May 17) by Sean Heather

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