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U.S. Chamber of Commerce Newsletter – International Policy Update (10/8)

9 October 2021 Saturday

U.S. Chamber of Commerce
International Policy Update
October 8, 2021
USTR Lays Out “Starting Point” for U.S.-China Trade
USIBC Hosts India Ideas Summit
Chamber Launches 2021 Global Rule of Law and Business Dashboard
Senators Reintroduce Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act
USTR, Vietnam Reach Deal to Avoid Section 301 Tariffs
The Biden Administrations’ Plan to Raise our Global Minimum Tax and Apply Another Makes No Sense
USTR Lays Out “Starting Point” for U.S.-China Trade
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on October 4 outlined the administration’s long-awaited China trade strategy at a Center for Strategic & International Studies event following an 8-month review. Ambassador Tai reiterated President Biden’s commitment to advancing domestic interests and a “worker-centered” trade policy to remain globally competitive. Tai described her comments as the “starting point of our administration’s strategic vision for realigning our trade policies towards China to defend the interests of America’s workers, businesses, farmers and producers, and strengthen our middle class.” (Read USTR’s fact sheet and watch Ambassador Tai’s remarks.)
Ambassador Tai outlined four components to this strategy in her speech:
  • Phase One: USTR recognized certain benefits of the Phase One Agreement, in particular the agriculture provisions, and will engage with China to enforce those commitments.
  • Tariffs: USTR will evaluate whether to reinstitute tariff exclusions to mitigate the negative effects of Section 301 tariffs that raised costs on Americans.
  • Non-market trade practices: USTR will use “the full range of tools we have” and “develop new tools as needed” to address China’s state-centered and non-market trade practices and defend U.S. interests.
  • Multilateral approach: USTR will work with allies to shape the rules for trade and technology in the 21st century.
U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant was quoted in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required): “We’re pleased the administration is taking a step forward by articulating its China strategy... Engagement with allies is important, but it can’t just be engagement with allies. Direct engagement with China is essential.”
He elaborated in several tweets: The U.S. Chamber “welcomes re-engagement by the Administration on China trade & commercial concerns to secure full & timely implementation of the Jan 2020 Phase One agreement. We also welcome restoration of the tariff exclusion process. We urge the Administration to continue negotiations with China to remove both nations’ counterproductive tariffs as soon as possible and to retroactively restore product exclusions that expired in 2020. These steps are sorely needed to mitigate the tariffs’ significant and ongoing harm to the U.S. economy, U.S. workers, and U.S. national competitiveness.”
On October 5, USTR announced in a Federal Register notice (FRN) it was inviting public comment on the possible reinstatement of exclusions from the Section 301 tariffs on goods imported from China previously extended by the Trump administration. The comment period will run from October 12 to December 1, and USTR will evaluate whether a product is granted an additional tariff exclusion based on whether the product is only available from China, the tariff will cause severe economic harm to a business or impact other U.S. interests, and the exclusion will serve to help eliminate China’s policies and practices covered under the Section 301 investigation. The granted exclusions will be retroactive to October 12.
Of note, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in July issued a report that concluded the Section 301 tariff exclusions issued under the Trump administration were inconsistently implemented and that the roles, responsibilities, and procedures related to the tariff exclusion process were not properly documented. It is unclear whether and how USTR will take these concerns into account in the present process. GAO also noted that USTR has rejected 87% of tariff exclusion requests. To date, the Biden administration has not indicated whether it will consider tariff relief beyond possible reinstitution of select previously granted exclusions.
For further information, please contact President of the Chamber’s China Center Jeremie Waterman (jwaterman@uschamber.com).
USIBC Hosts India Ideas Summit
On October 6-7, the Chamber’s U.S.-India Business Council held its flagship India Ideas Summit and 46th Annual Meeting. The event brought together high-level speakers from the U.S. and Indian governments, state-level officials, and the senior-most leaders from business and society for this year’s Summit. This year’s Summit focused on powering the global economic recovery in the post-COVID world and included discussions with key ministers on healthcare innovation in Indian states, fireside chats with industry officials on startups and emerging technology to tackle COVID and the “new” normal, breakout sessions with government officials, moderated by industry leaders on healthcare collaboration during the pandemic, and collaboration between the governments and the business community to mobilize new programs and resources in both countries.
The event featured remarks from Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, and Textiles Piyush Goyal, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, and many more government and business leaders. Please click here to watch the discussions from Day 1 and Day 2.
For further information, please contact Vice President for South Asia Ryan Miller (rmiller@uschamber.com).
Chamber Launches 2021 Global Rule of Law and Business Dashboard
The Chamber’s Coalition for the Rule of Law in Global Markets on October 4 hosted the 2021 Global Rule of Law and Business Dashboard Launch to discuss how companies, government, and civil society can promote the rule of law as a building block for economic recovery. The results from the Global Rule of Law and Business Dashboard 2021 Report (here) were used as a springboard into a broader discussion on the importance of collaborating across society to combat corruption, promote transparency, and strengthen rule of law through regulatory monitoring, digital tools, and other means. An event recording of the launch can be found here.
For further information, please contact Vice President of the U.S.-Africa Business Center Kendra Gaither (kgaither@uschamber.com) or Manager for the Americas Megan Bridges (mbridges@uschamber.com.)
Senators Reintroduce Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act
On October 5, the U.S. Chamber sent a letter in support of the “Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act,” introduced that same day by Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 17 additional senators. The bill, originally introduced in the previous Congress, aims to reinstate Congress’s authority over tariffs by requiring congressional approval for any presidentially proposed tariffs under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. This bill continues bipartisan efforts in the Congress over recent years to reexamine laws delegating tariff authority to the executive branch and reassert congressional involvement and oversight into the process. The Chamber has supported many of these efforts, including voicing previous support for the “Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act” as well as the “Trade Security Act.”
Senator Toomey said in a statement upon the bill’s introduction:
“For too long, Congress has allowed presidents to unilaterally impose tariffs by invoking spurious claims of ‘national security’ – regardless of whether or not the import in question poses any genuine threat to national defense. These wrongfully-imposed tariffs have increased costs for American consumers, substantially burdened domestic manufacturers, and have undermined our relationships with our allies. Through the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act, we can restore Congress’ authority by once again requiring tariffs imposed for so-called ‘national security’ purposes to be approved by Congress, including those previously enacted on steel and aluminum in 2018.”
Senator Warner stated:
“As our economy continues to recover from the economic crisis, we must ensure that Congress has a say in any future actions that could restrict trade or impose consequential changes. This legislation, which we introduced under the last administration, will help prevent any future president from abusing national security authorities to impose unilateral tariffs. It will also help guarantee that any efforts to crack down on unfair or illegal trade practices are strategic, and done in concert with our allies.”
For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy (jmurphy@uschamber.com).
USTR, Vietnam Reach Deal to Avoid Section 301 Tariffs
On October 1 the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced it had reached a deal with Vietnam and will not impose Section 301 tariffs on timber exports to the United States. This agreement will resolve concerns about the use of illegally harvested and traded timber in wood and furniture products exported to the U.S. Vietnam has also agreed to additional improvements and enforcement mechanisms to keep illegal timber out of the supply chain. In July, USTR decided not to impose tariffs in the Section 301 investigation into Vietnam’s currency practices after the State Bank of Vietnam and the Department of the Treasury reached an agreement to address U.S. concerns about Vietnam’s currency practices. Both Section 301 investigations were initiated by the Trump administration in October 2020.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai stated the following upon the announcement:
“I commend Vietnam for its commitment to address our concerns regarding the importation and use of timber that is illegally harvested or traded. With this Agreement, Vietnam will provide a model – both for the Indo-Pacific region and globally – for comprehensive enforcement against illegal timber. USTR looks forward to working with Vietnam to deepen collaboration and information exchange, including through a newly created Timber Working Group.”
The Chamber had c0-led a coalition of more than 70 members in a July letter to USTR urging for a resolution excluding the use of Section 301 tariffs in both the illegal timber investigation and the separate currency manipulation investigation. The letter noted that Vietnam has emerged as both a strategic and valued partner of the U.S. in Asia, so the application of tariffs would threaten the relationship as well as harm U.S. businesses’ competitiveness.
For further information, please contact Executive Director for Southeast Asia John Goyer (jgoyer@uschamber.com).
From “Above the Fold,” U.S. Chamber (October 4) by Curtis Dubay
This e-mail was sent to chairman@amcham.org and contains information directly related to your subscription profile.
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