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U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DIVISION

16 July 2021 Friday

 U.S. Chamber of Commerce
International Policy Update
July 14, 2021
Chamber Urges Renewal of TPA as 2015 Law Lapses
U.S., Mexico Settle First USMCA Labor Complaint
House Committee Marks Up Counter to Senate USICA Provisions
Commerce Releases Trump-era Section 232 Report on Auto Imports
Brilliant Addresses U.S.-China Relations on Bloomberg
Chamber Recognizes USMCA’s Benefits on Its First Anniversary
Denzel Departs Chamber
From the Home Front:
Chamber Joins Business and Labor Groups in Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment Coalition
Chamber Opposes Administration’s Executive Order on Competition
Chamber Launches #RecoveryNotTaxes Campaign for Small Business
Commentary:
10 Overlooked Facts about International Investment
Chamber Urges Renewal of TPA as 2015 Law Lapses
On June 30, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant issued the following statement noting the expiry of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 and called for renewal of its provisions known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA):
“Renewing Trade Promotion Authority is a critical priority, and the U.S. Chamber urges Congress to begin work to renew and update this important legislation. TPA is the vehicle that allows American workers, farmers, and companies to secure the benefits of a new market-opening trade agreements; it lets members of Congress set negotiating objectives and guarantees they will be consulted as trade talks proceed; and it strengthens the hand of U.S. trade officials as they engage with foreign governments. To advance a pro-growth, pro-jobs trade agenda, TPA is essential.”
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
U.S., Mexico Settle First USMCA Labor Complaint
On July 8, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced an agreement with Mexico for a comprehensive remediation plan to review allegations of worker rights’ violations at a General Motors facility in Silao, Mexico. This is the first resolution under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s novel Rapid Response Labor Mechanism (RRLM) following USTR’s request that Mexico investigate the plant’s April vote on whether to unionize. Under the agreement, the Mexican government will ensure there is a new union vote at the facility by August 20, which will be monitored by Mexican and international labor observers. The U.S. and Mexico are also investigating a Tridonex auto parts factory in Mexico over collective bargaining rights issues following a petition by labor group AFL-CIO.
Ambassador Tai released a statement regarding the agreement, which reads in part:
“The action announced today complements Mexico’s important labor law reforms, and I commend the Mexican government for taking swift action when they recognized that workers’ rights were denied. Their partnership was instrumental in addressing this issue and shows that our countries can continue working to strengthen our important trade and economic relationship.”
On June 22, the Chamber submitted comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the Department of Labor (DOL) regarding the “Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement Procedural Guidelines for Petitions Pursuant to the USMCA.” The letter reiterated comments submitted last fall on the procedural guidelines’ lack of due process protections for industry in connection with the novel mechanism. In the comments, the Chamber expressed its concern that “the final procedural guidance has yet to be published, hence any action on a petition is inappropriate and unfair to the owner of the covered facility and the respondent party” and contends that “clear, final procedural guidance must be published” before the Labor Committee acts on petitions. The Chamber also raised issue with the timing of USMCA labor petitions, which violate industry’s right to due process.
In addition, U.S. Chamber Senior Manager for Employment Policy Stephanie Ferguson recently authored a blog on the issue and a flow chart explaining how the RRLM is intended to function. For further information, please contact Stephanie Ferguson (sferguson@uschamber.com).
House Committee Marks Up Counter to Senate USICA Provisions
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs will finish its marathon markup of the “Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement (EAGLE) Act” in a session on July 15 following July 13 and June 30 meetings. The EAGLE Act aims to “revitalize and reassert” American influence in Asia, an objective similar to that of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s “Strategic Competition Act,” which was part of the “United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) of 2021” the Senate passed in May. The June 30 session was rife with divisions between Republicans and Democrats over climate provisions and the extent to which export control restrictions should be included in the measure. Following a series of recorded votes on amendments, the committee is expected to advance the bill to the House floor along party lines.
In addition, on June 28, the House passed the “National Science Foundation for the Future Act” with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill includes increased funding and a new science and technology directorate for the National Science Foundation. The House also approved the “Department of Energy (DOE) Science for the Future Act,” which gives comprehensive policy guidance and funding authorization to research programs under the DOE’s Office of Science.
These bills are expected to serve as the base for the House’s offering in conference committee negotiations with the Senate on its USICA package. The Chamber is continuing to engage with members of Congress on these bills. Member companies are encouraged to share their views and concerns with Chamber staff on these measures.
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
Commerce Releases Trump-era Section 232 Report on Auto Imports
On July 6, the U.S. Department of Commerce released a long-awaited Section 232 investigation report on imports of automobiles and automobile parts. The report concluded that auto imports threatened national security and issued recommendations to then-President Trump, which included a recommendation to institute tariffs from 25% to 35% on autos and auto parts, though no action was taken. The report’s release comes over a year after Congress passed in the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act an amendment put forth by Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA) requiring the administration to release the report.
Senator Toomey said in a statement upon report’s release:
“The Commerce Department has a statutory obligation to Congress, and to the American people, to release all of their Section 232 reports. That obligation includes this report on automobiles which was required to be released on January 19, 2020. It was wholly unacceptable that the previous administration defied federal law and refused to release this report. I commend Secretary Raimondo and the Biden administration for making this report public. A quick glance confirms what we expected: The justification for these tariffs was so entirely unfounded that even the authors were too embarrassed to let it see the light of day.”
The Chamber warned repeatedly that imposing Section 232 tariffs on imports of autos and auto parts would have disastrous economic consequences and was nearly universally opposed in industry and in Congress. The Chamber has also repeatedly advocated for the removal of Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs due to their adverse effects on American workers and companies.
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
Brilliant Addresses U.S.-China Relations on Bloomberg
On June 28, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant appeared on Bloomberg Business to discuss the current state of U.S.-China commercial relations. After the interview, Brilliant tweeted: “We don’t want US-China dialogue for the sake of dialogue—the business community wants results. We need to hold #China accountable for Phase 1 agreement commitments, and go well beyond that to address issues like #data, forced tech transfer and #IP.” To watch the clip, please click here.
Chamber Recognizes USMCA’s Benefits on Its First Anniversary
On July 1, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant issued the following statement on the occasion of the first anniversary of the entry-into-force of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA):
“On its first anniversary, USMCA is delivering substantial benefits to the U.S. business and agriculture communities. Thanks in large part to the free trade guarantees provided by this new agreement, trade with Canada and Mexico today supports more than 10 million jobs across all 50 states. In particular, we have seen real gains from USMCA’s updated rules on digital trade and non-tariff barriers.
“Looking ahead, it will be critical that the administration prioritizes enforcement, which on a number of business issues merits closer attention today. Nonetheless, this anniversary is a good moment to celebrate the ways that USMCA has restored certainty in the North American trading relationship and guarantees a level playing field for American workers, farmers, and companies. Indeed, today more than ever, the U.S. needs more market-opening, growth-supporting trade agreements to help U.S. businesses compete in global markets and support middle class jobs at home.”
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for the Americas Neil Herrington (nherrington@uschamber.com).
Denzel Departs Chamber
Senior Director for International Policy Kris Denzel left the Chamber on June 30 to join DHL Express as Director of Government Affairs. The Chamber wishes Kris all the best in his new endeavors. Please direct inquiries to John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com) or Mary Kate Carter (mkcarter@uschamber.com).
From the Home Front
Chamber Joins Business and Labor Groups in Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment Coalition
On July 8, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, AFL-CIO, the National Retail Federation, the Bipartisan Policy Center, North America’s Building Trades Unions, as well as over 20 business and labor organizations to launch the Coalition for Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment. The Coalition issued the following statement today commending the bipartisan group of 22 senators and the Biden administration on reaching agreement on a historic $1.2 trillion infrastructure framework and urges Congress to turn the framework into legislation that will be signed into law:
“Infrastructure modernization is a critical component of long-term economic growth and improved quality of life for every American. Our organizations commend the bipartisan group of 22 senators and the Biden administration on finding common ground and reaching agreement on a historic $1.2 trillion infrastructure framework. Momentum is building, as seen by the endorsement of the framework from the Problem Solvers Caucus.
“Now is the time to turn these promises into projects. We urge Congress to turn this framework into legislation that will be signed into law, and our organizations are committed to helping see this cross the finish line. Enacting significant infrastructure legislation, including investments in our roads, bridges, ports, airports, transit, rail, water and energy infrastructure, access to broadband, and more, is critical to our nation and will create middle-class family sustaining jobs.
“Don’t let partisan differences get in the way of action — pass significant, meaningful infrastructure legislation now.”
Chamber Opposes Administration’s Executive Order on Competition
On July 9, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley released the following statement today regarding the administration’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.
“Today’s Executive Order is built on the flawed belief that our economy is over concentrated, stagnant, and fails to generate private investment needed to spur innovation. Such broadsided claims are out of touch with reality, as our economy has proven to be resilient and remains the envy of the world.
“Our economy needs both large and small businesses to thrive -- not centralized government dictates. In many industries, size and scale are important not only to compete, but also to justify massive levels of investment. Larger businesses are also strong partners that rely on and facilitate the growth of smaller businesses.
“The Chamber is a strong advocate for market-based competition, not a government-planned economy. This Executive Order smacks of a ‘government knows best’ approach to managing the economy. The Chamber always will applaud efforts to promote small business, and we will vigorously oppose calls for government-set prices, onerous and legally questionable rulemakings, efforts to treat innovative industries as public utilities, and the politicization of antitrust enforcement.”
Chamber Launches #RecoveryNotTaxes Campaign for Small Business
On July 13, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched an initiative providing detailed data on how President Biden’s proposed tax increases will impact small businesses throughout each state.
The U.S. Chamber’s analysis of IRS and Census data reveals there are 1.4 million small businesses that will be negatively impacted by the proposed tax increases. These include small businesses in every sector of the economy, including agriculture, construction, health care, real estate, finance, and more.
As part of the initiative, the U.S. Chamber is providing each state delegation information on how many employers in their state would see their taxes increase, including how many small businesses with fewer than 500 employees will be impacted. The data is then broken down by small businesses in selected industries. Click here to see how each state will be impacted by these tax increases.
President and CEO Suzanne Clark said in statement:
“Small businesses across the country are helping lead the economic recovery—the last thing they need are harmful tax increases. Under President Biden’s proposal to raise corporate taxes, U.S. job creators would be hit with the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. The Biden administration’s claim that the tax increase would only affect big corporations is false. The truth is, 1.4 million small businesses would face a tax hike, making it harder for them to hire, grow, and compete. Congress must do the right thing for America’s small businesses and workers and reject these proposed tax increases.”
In addition, the Chamber led a day of action, urging constituents to contact their member of Congress and tell them that increasing the corporate tax rate is bad for their state and the nation. You can follow along on social media with #RecoveryNotTaxes.
Commentary
From “Above the Fold,” U.S. Chamber, by John Murphy (July 6)
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