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U.S. Chamber of Commerce Newsletter-International Policy Update (1/14)

17 January 2022 Monday

U.S. Chamber of Commerce
International Policy Update
January 14, 2022
Clark Urges Action on Trade in State of American Business Address
Bills Abound as China Competition Conference Remains in Limbo
ICYMI: Veteran U.S. Diplomat Atul Keshap joins U.S. Chamber of Commerce
ICYMI: U.S.-Japan Business Council Statement on Sec. 232 Tariff Consultations
From the Home Front
Chamber CEO Statement on Historic Inflation Report
Clark Urges Action on Trade in State of American Business Address
In her first State of American Business address on January 11, U.S. Chamber President and CEO Suzanne P. Clark highlighted the innovation and resilience of American business while warning against increasing government overreach stifling competition and free enterprise. She also emphasized the need for U.S. global leadership on trade.
“The state of American business is competitive,” said Clark. “Businesses are not simply competing to win today, but to build a better tomorrow … to propel our country and world toward a brighter future of growth, solutions, and opportunity.”
“Competition will enable us to innovate our way through this pandemic,” she said. “And it will help us use all of the challenges, disruptions, and opportunities accelerated by the pandemic to shape a new economic era that will define our future.”
On trade, Clark said:
“Winning the future means competing in global markets and competing for global leadership. By one vital measure—trade—we’re standing still. And that means we’re falling behind.
“While other economies race to ink new deals, the U.S. has not entered an agreement with a new trade partner in a decade. And the current administration—consumed by caution and internal reviews—is doing little to change that. In fact, it has yet to embrace even relatively uncontroversial initiatives such as a trade agreement with the UK, our closest ally.
“But Europe is charging ahead. The EU has 46 trade agreements with 78 countries. The U.S. has just 14 trade agreements with 20 countries—and the trend for our tariffs has been up, not down.
“Meanwhile, China continues to rise as a formidable commercial and strategic competitor. On January 1, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership—a massive China-led trade pact that covers all of East Asia—entered into force. It means better access to some of the world’s fastest growing markets for businesses from Korea and Japan to Indonesia and Vietnam.
“Once upon a time, our answer to China was the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-country trade pact in the Asia-Pacific. Remember the TPP? American negotiators wrote 90% it. Well, the U.S. has pulled out, and now it’s the UK, Korea, Taiwan and— yes —China trying to join while we stand on the outside looking in.
“China has emerged as the top trading partner and source of investment in much of Africa and Latin America too. If the U.S. fails to engage in mutually beneficial trade agreements with these countries, we’ll lose export sales and the domestic jobs they support ... not to mention weakening strategic alliances.
“Look, there is no easy answer when it comes to China—we must compete vigorously around the world. We must stand up for our values and security and against unfair trading and regulatory practices. And we must cooperate on critical global challenges such as sustainability and public health. We have to be able to do all three—and doing so deftly will be one of the defining features of American leadership in this era.”
Despite the clear innovation, the resilience, and the dynamism of our economy, we have leaders who think the government needs to step in and impose a heavy hand, Clark said.
“If bureaucrats and elected officials don’t stop getting in the way, we will stop them. We will challenge overreach and defend the rule of law at every turn, in every agency, and with every tool at our disposal … in Washington, in statehouses, and in the courts.”
Addressing the worker shortage crisis, Clark called for doubling the number of people legally immigrating to the U.S.; a permanent solution for the “dreamers;” and the removal of barriers to work facing parents, those without broadband access, and formerly incarcerated individuals.
“Let’s ensure everyone in this country has the skills, the education, and the opportunity to go as high and as far as their hard work and talent will take them—for the 11 million jobs that sit vacant today,” she said. “And for the jobs of tomorrow that haven’t even been invented yet.”
Clark also warned against political gridlock and said we need more politicians who are focused on winning over voters to their ideas, and then building broad coalitions to turn those ideas into good policy.
“The U.S. Chamber is calling for a new movement of bold—and I mean bold—business advocates committed to defending those elected officials who dare to find the common ground necessary to enact durable policies to move our country forward.”
Several news outlets reported on the trade components of Clark’s speech, including Yahoo! FinanceInside U.S. Trade (subscription), and Politico Pro’s Morning Trade (subscription).
Click here for a full transcript of the address, and watch a video of the event here.
Bills Abound as China Competition Conference Remains in Limbo
In November, House and Senate leaders agreed to go to conference on the Senate-passed “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA)” and House components of China-focused legislation, though a timeline on the conference is currently unclear. Given the current ongoing congressional proceedings, including hashing out a FY22 funding bill and the fact that it is an election year, the timeline to pass a compromise package in 2022 may be tight.
On January 7, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) sent a letter to House and Senate leadership, urging them to pass USICA with inclusion of the “Eliminating Global Market Distortions to Protect American Jobs Act” — also referred to as the “Leveling the Playing Field 2.0 Act” — to any USICA compromise. The legislation, which would make significant changes to U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) law, is similar to a House version sponsored by Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH). The Chamber opposes the bills due to concerns the provisions have “the potential to favor a handful of businesses at the expense of a much wider swath of industries employing many more American workers, thereby undermining the global competitiveness, productivity, and growth prospects of many U.S. firms in high-growth sectors.”
On December 20, Representatives Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Victoria Spartz (R-IN), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) released a House version of the “National Critical Capabilities Defense Act.” The legislation would create a USTR-chaired, CFIUS-like inter-agency structure to select outbound investments to certain countries. The bill is identical to a Senate version, introduced earlier this year by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and John Cornyn (R-TX), which the pair to date has tried and failed to insert into USICA and the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022" (NDAA). A version of this bill may well be proposed as an amendment for inclusion when Congress again takes up the “China competition” bill.
The Chamber opposed inclusion of the amendment in both USICA and NDAA on the grounds that underlying concerns were already addressed in 2018 when Congress passed the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) and the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA). The Chamber also argued that USTR — tagged in the amendment as chair of the proposed inter-agency committee — lacks the resources and experience to scrutinize U.S. investments abroad for potential national security risks.
For further information, please contact Director for International Policy Isabelle Icso (iicso@uschamber.com).
From the Home Front
Chamber CEO Statement on Historic Inflation Report
On January 12, U.S. Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark made the following statement after the release of the Labor Department’s December 2021 Consumer Price Index Report:
“Today’s numbers are a reminder that we need policymakers focused on combatting inflation. That means avoiding policies, like the current so-called Build Back Better Bill that will fuel greater near-term price increases. Instead policymakers should pursue policies that will reduce inflationary pressures, including addressing the worker shortage crisis, expanding trade, and reducing tariffs.
“Yesterday, the U.S. Chamber, as part of our State of American Business, called for doubling the level of legal work-based immigration, removing barriers for parents, the formerly incarcerated, and others to enter the workforce, and launching a robust trade agenda.”
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