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U.S. Chamber Newsletter-International Policy Update (6/17)

27 June 2022 Monday

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

International Policy Update

June 17, 2022

WTO Ministerial Delivers Mixed Results on Business Priorities

Pelosi, Schumer Attempt to Streamline Competitiveness Bill

U.S. Chamber Leads Business Mission to Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana

CBP Issues Importer Guidance Ahead of UFLPA Implementation

Treasury Department Extends Key Licenses Tied to Russia Sanctions

 

WTO Ministerial Delivers Mixed Results on Business Priorities

 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant issued the following statement as the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its 12th Ministerial Conference early today in Geneva:

 

“The U.S. business community depends on the WTO and the global rules-based trading system. American workers, farmers, and companies benefit from its rules every day. However, the outcomes of the WTO’s meetings this week are a mixed bag for the business community:

  • “The TRIPS waiver is a solution in search of a problem: Intellectual property rights helped deliver Covid-19 vaccines in record time, and today the world is awash in vaccine doses. We can’t let this unfortunate measure set a precedent for undermining IP rights. [See June 15 statement from the Chamber’s Patrick Kilbride.]
  • “In a welcome move, the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions was extended. Hopefully WTO members can see the last thing the world economy needs now is more tariffs — in this case on digital transmissions of goods, services, and data across borders.
  • “Two decades of negotiations for an agreement to curb harmful fisheries subsidies yielded a partial deal after resistance from a small number of countries. This is a rare case where trade rules could make a huge contribution to addressing a major environmental problem, namely, overfishing. WTO members must continue their work here.
  • “With the world facing serious food security problems, WTO members reaffirmed their commitment to forgo export restrictions, in this case on agricultural sales to the World Food Program. It’s clear export restrictions are contributing to the gathering food crisis.

“The international business community can’t give up on the WTO, but we are being forced to find ways to circumnavigate the roadblocks thrown up by a recalcitrant few — or new initiatives that will support intellectual property, digital trade, and strong trade rules. Reform is needed; action is needed. The world’s prosperity is on the line.”

 

The Chamber engaged in extensive advocacy around several of these issues, including the TRIPS waiver and the e-commerce moratorium. For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com)

 

Pelosi, Schumer Attempt to Streamline Competitiveness Bill

 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) held several bilateral meetings this week as well as one with President Biden to discuss the “Bipartisan Innovation Act,” the bill being negotiated by a conference committee drawing from the Senate-passed “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA)” and the House-passed “America COMPETES Act.” House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committee leaders met again yesterday.

 

In an effort to streamline the sprawling bill and clear a path toward enactment, Pelosi has reportedly directed House committees to consider letting go of “controversial matter” in the America COMPETES Act and has given staff a deadline of this weekend to do so. More specifically, we have heard that Democratic Committee staff in both chambers have been directed to put proposals into three buckets: 1) areas in which progress is being made and work should continue; 2) areas in which a deal is close or has been made; or 3) areas where there is zero common ground.

 

This is a very tight deadline, and it remains to be seen whether it can be met. One leadership staffer said there are still more than 1,000 open items in the conference crosswalk, with only approximately 50 closed out. In terms of the broader calendar, the Senate is in recess from June 25 to July 10 and then only back for a few weeks before August recess. The House is on a similar calendar.

 

We have heard that House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) asked Pelosi for more time to work through trade issues and that he was confident a deal could be struck — one that Democrats hope would involve the inclusion of Trade Adjustment Assistance to the Senate trade package in exchange for Republicans getting business tax cuts, possibly in the form of R&D amortization or the Facilitating American-built Semiconductors (FABS). FABS would establish an investment tax credit for domestic semiconductor research and manufacturing.

 

On a related note, a revised outbound investment screening proposal was introduced on June 13 by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Victoria Spartz (R-IN). Under the new version of the proposal, which authors claim is meant to prevent offshoring of critical production capacity, U.S. firms operating in critical industries would be required to report outbound investments to certain “countries of concern,” including China.

 

The executive branch would then have the ability to block transactions of concern after a 45-day review conducted by an interagency committee. Additionally, the legislation’s scope would cover foreign entities that invest in China and/or engage in certain activities with Chinese affiliates globally to develop critical technology or capabilities.

 

Critically, the scope of the measure continues to be extremely broad and could capture a large swath of firms in the U.S. goods-producing economy as they make investments in “countries of concern.” Significant parts of the proposal remain bracketed and undefined. New language would empower the U.S. government to mitigate and block outbound investments into China made by non-U.S. (e.g., European or Japanese or Korean) companies, which would represent an unprecedented and controversial extension of U.S. jurisdiction over foreign companies.

 

The Chamber continues to engage with key offices and conferees on a wide variety of elements of the pending legislation. For further information, please contact Director for International Policy Isabelle Icso (iicso@uschamber.com).

 

U.S. Chamber Leads Business Mission to Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana

 

The U.S. Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Business Center is leading its first in-person business mission to Africa since the beginning of the pandemic this week.

 

The business mission to Côte d’Ivoire features high-level meetings between the U.S. and Ivoirian public and private sectors, convening U.S. commercial diplomats, trade experts, business leaders, and a U.S. government delegation led by Deputy Commerce Secretary Graves, along with representatives from U.S. government agencies including the Department of State, Prosper Africa, Millennium Challenge Corporation, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, and U.S. Africa Development Foundation.

 

In addition, the 2022 U.S.-Ghana Business Forum is taking place on June 15-17. It will focus on “Leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to Promote U.S.-Africa Commercial Partnerships.”

 

U.S.-Africa Business Center President Scott Eisner commented:

 

“Expanding trade and investment is a critical tool for economic growth and job creation in all our countries. Business missions are a tremendous vehicle to grow shared prosperity by identifying new partners and opportunities for U.S. and African companies.”

 

For further information, please contact U.S.-Africa Business Center President Scott Eisner (seisner@uschamber.com).

 

CBP Issues Importer Guidance Ahead of UFLPA Implementation

 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection this week issued operational guidance to help importers navigate the implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The guidance will complement a broader strategy released by an interagency forced labor task force next week.

 

The guidance outlines processes for requesting exemptions as well as preferred resources and documentation for supply chain due diligence and tracing, including the State Department’s Responsible Sourcing Tool.

 

It also details the “type and nature” of information that may be required by CBP to prove that goods were not made with forced labor. Additionally, the guidance makes clear that UFLPA will supersede current withhold release orders related to Xinjiang for goods imported on or after June 21.

 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will host an expert panel on June 27 on CBP’s importer guidance as well as the task force’s broader strategy. For further information, please contact Director for International Policy Isabelle Icso (iicso@uschamber.com) and China Center Director Don Giolzetti (dgiolzetti@uschamber.com).

 

Treasury Department Extends Key Licenses Tied to Russia Sanctions

 

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on June 14 issued an amendment authorizing certain energy-related transactions involving Russian financial institutions. Specifically, General License 8C authorizes certain transactions that were prohibited by Executive Order 14024 through Dec. 5. The license was originally set to expire next week.

 

Additionally, OFAC released updated FAQs on GL 8C as well as the implementation of a services ban announced in May. Services considered critical to Russia’s military efforts — including accounting, trust and corporation formation, and management consulting — were banned starting June 7. The FAQs further clarify the scope of the ban as well as locational terms.

 

OFAC also recently announced an extension for General License 13 relating to transactions involving the Central Bank of Russia through Sept. 30. This license allows U.S. firms with operations in Russia to “pay taxes, fees, or import duties, and purchase or receive permits, licenses, registrations, or certifications … provided such transactions are ordinarily incident and necessary to the day-to-day operations in the Russian Federation.” The license was also set to expire June 24.

 

For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy, John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com) or Director for International Policy, Isabelle Icso (iicso@uschamber.com).

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