Skip to main content
All Posts By

Catchatiger

Navigating the EU’s Year of Transition

Navigating the EU’s Year of Transition

The direction of travel for the next 5 years of EU policy – the policies which shape the lives of 450 million EU citizens, as well as the laws governing companies that operate in Europe – will be set in the next 12 months.

Read More

EU-US critical raw materials negotiations: Drivers, trajectory and import

EU-US critical raw materials negotiations: Drivers, trajectory and import

EU-US negotiations on critical raw materials carry significant implications for strategic value chains. They are also linked to wider trade dynamics, and come at a time of intense political manoeuvring on both sides of the Atlantic. Red Flag’s insight note analyses the drivers, variables and trajectory of the negotiations.

Read More

International Issues Update 2023/7

ON OUR DESKS

  • Advising on import barriers in Argentina
  • Preparing input on IPEF negotiations 
  • Advising on the outlook for China tech restrictions

These are just examples of client service. How can we help you? Email any IBC counsellor for assistance or consult our issues list to find the expert you’re looking for.


WIBC DISCUSSIONS

In case you missed it:

  • February 22: Deputy Assistant USTR for Latin America Courtney Smothers, Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity and implementation of existing trade agreements in Latin America

Upcoming WIBC events:

  • March 1: Deputy Assistant USTR for China Affairs Timothy Wineland, U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade priorities
  • March 7: Assistant USTR for Small Business, Market Access, and Industrial Competitiveness Sushan Demirjian, Global Arrangement on Steel and Aluminum, the Inflation Reduction Act, and supply chain issues

WIBC discussions are open to WIBC members only. Not a member? Contact Alix for membership inquiries.


YOU NEED TO KNOW

China

During a reportedly tense meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, China’s chief foreign affairs official Wang Yi refused to apologize for the recent balloon incident while also calling the U.S. response “near-hysterical.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry denounced “U.S. hegemony” in a February 20 report covering claimed political, military, economic, technological, and cultural abuses. 

China released on February 24 a new position paper calling for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and an end to unilateral sanctions. China has avoided calling the war an “invasion” and has continued diplomatic and economic ties with Russia. Western officials have warned that China may be considering providing Russia with lethal military assistance, an accusation denied by Beijing. Wang Yi visited Moscow February 22 in a show of support, and Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Russia later this spring. 

Amid these continuing tensions, the State Department has provided no indication Blinken will reschedule his canceled Beijing trip anytime soon, but the March 1 G20 ministerial in New Delhi could provide another venue for the two sides to meet – Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang will also attend.

Contact: Ethan Knecht, Pat Sheehy

Plastics

The UN Environment Assembly has made public submissions from countries and stakeholders participating in negotiations to develop a global treaty on plastic pollution, in advance of the second round of negotiations scheduled for May 29 in Paris.  

The U.S. submission proposes a mix of legally binding obligations, commitments, and voluntary approaches that “promote the sustainable production and consumption of plastic, increase plastic circularity in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment, and strengthen the environmentally sound management of plastic waste.” 

 In contrast, the European Union and members of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution have proposed binding requirements to reduce the production of primary plastics (including through taxes, tariffs, fees, production permits and licenses, moratoriums, bans, regulations, and removal of subsidies), as well as to eliminate or restrict specific plastics that are “harmful to the environment and human health, are problematic because they impede

circularity or that have a high risk of release into the environment.”

The EU is accepting comments until April 18 on its proposed Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), which aims to cut plastic waste by 40% bloc-wide. The draft regulation includes requirements for 100% recyclable packaging by 2030, mandatory recycled content requirements, and bans on “unnecessary packaging” (such as miniature hotel toiletries and plastic produce packaging) and “superfluous packaging” (such as double walls or false bottoms). 

The WTO Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee will host on March 7 a special thematic session on regulatory cooperation between members on plastic regulation.

Contact: Stephen Ziehm

Russia 

Following President Biden’s February 20 visit to Kyiv and marking one year since Russia’s invasion, the United States announced on February 24 $9.9 billion in funding for Ukraine’s government, alongside additional weapons and defense support and further sanctions on Russia. 

U.S. sanctions include: increased tariffs on Russian goods; blocking sanctions on hundreds of Russian persons, including previously unsanctioned banks, political figures, grain traders,  high technology firms, and subsidiaries of Russia’s Rosatom nuclear SOE; new restrictions on the Russian metals and mining sector; and export controls on basic goods. 

The European Union on February 23 proposed to renew Ukraine’s preferential trade access but failed to reach consensus on a 10th package of sanctions. Poland and the Baltic states are reportedly pushing for harsher measures than those proposed by the European Commission as Hungary seeks to soften and remove sanctions. Meanwhile, G7 leaders reaffirmed “unwavering support” for Ukraine, and the United Kingdom barred the export of “every item Russia is using on the battlefield.” Ukraine itself imposed sanctions barring all Russian financial firms from its market for 50 years.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin recommitted to the war in his February 21 State of the Nation address, during which he also announced that Russia would exit the “New START” nuclear arms control treaty.  

Contact: Pat Sheehy, Ethan Knecht

Quick takes

  • The United States on February 23 nominated former Mastercard President and CEO Ajay Banga to lead the World Bank, highlighting Banga’s “experience mobilizing public-private resources” and addressing climate change.
  • The United States, Mexico and Canada agreed to establish a trilateral Sub-Committee on Emergency Response under the USMCA North American Competitiveness Committee, which will seek to coordinate on critical infrastructure priorities and support North American supply chains during emergencies.
  • In February 23 remarks outlining a “long-term vision for technological leadership, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said the United States aims to establish two new large-scale clusters for semiconductor manufacturing by 2030 and to create a new public-private National Semiconductor Technology Center. 
  • Ambassadors from 27 developing countries urged House and Senate trade leadership to urgently reauthorize the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, calling it “a central piece on the trade agenda of our countries.”
  • The State Department issued on February 23 its revised conventional arms transfer policy, outlining how the administration will evaluate arms transfers’ risks while promoting U.S. defense exports. 
  • Politico reports that French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said global tax reform is “blocked, notably by the United States, Saudi Arabia and India” and that “chances of success are slim.” 

NOTICES, BILLS & HEARINGS

Federal Register Notices

Newly Introduced Legislation

House

  • H.R.1149 (Wild, D-PA) Requires reporting of certain entity involvement in the provision of telecommunication equipment and services. 
  • H.R.1146 (Steel, R-CA) Would limit foreign threats to U.S. higher education.
  • H.R.1137 (Nunn, R-IA) Would enable work with allies to seek China’s compliance with OECD export credit standards. 
  • H.R.1135 (Meeks, D-NY) Would grant authorities to the President to combat economic coercion by foreign adversaries. 
  • H.R.1130 (Johnson, R-OH) Would repeal natural gas export and import limitations. 
  • H.R.1127 (Gonzales, R-TX) Would initiate U.S.-Taiwan cooperative research activities to prepare against cyber threats.
  • H.R.1120 (Donalds, R-FL) Would impose sanctions on certain Cubans who engage in human rights abuses, corruption, and certain transactions. 
  • H.R.1107 (Kim, R-CA) Would direct the Secretary of State to promote the end to labeling China as a developing country. 
  • H.Res.145 (James, R-MI) Expresses opposition to South African joint military exercises with China and requires a review of the U.S.-South African relationship. 
  • H.R.1103 (Smith, R-HJ) Requires the President to remove privileges from the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office if it is determined that Hong Kong no longer enjoys autonomy. 
  • H.R.1093 (McCaul, R-TX) Directs the Secretary of State to submit a report on the implementation of the advanced capabilities pillar of the trilateral security partnership between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. 
  • H.R.1081 (Gallagher, R-WI) Would protect Americans from foreign adversary social media threats.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings

House

Senate

WHO’S WHO

Arrivals

  • Mr. Christopher Wilson, Assistant USTR for Japan, Korea, and APEC Affairs
  • Mr. Evan Schatz, Senate Appropriations Committee Democratic Staff Director
  • Ms. Eyang Garrison, Senate Agriculture Committee Democratic Deputy Staff Director
  • Mr. Kevin Shea, Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
  • Mr. Matthew Pearl, NSC Director for Emerging Technology

Departures

  • Dr. Ben Harris, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy
  • Ms. Jen Harris, NEC/NSC Senior Director for International Economics

Want more scoops on personnel moves? Find the most recent Who’s Who here.


UPCOMING EVENTS

Looking farther ahead? Find the most recent full international events calendar here.

International Issues Update 2023/6

ON OUR DESKS

  • Reporting on Brazilian President Lula’s visit to Washington
  • Analyzing impact of APEP, IRA, and the CHIPS Act on investment in Latin America
  • Monitoring progress of UN plastic treaty negotiations and reporting on global plastic outlook

These are just examples of client service. How can we help you? Email any IBC counsellor for assistance or consult our issues list to find the expert you’re looking for.


WIBC DISCUSSIONS

In case you missed it:

  • February 15: Assistant USTR for Labor Josh Kagan, Combatting forced labor and labor priorities in trade negotiations
  • February 16: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia Rick Waters, U.S.-China relations and China House’s relationship with the business community

Upcoming WIBC events:

  • February 22: Deputy Assistant USTR for Latin America Courtney Smothers, Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity and implementation of existing trade agreements in Latin America
  • March 1: Deputy Assistant USTR for China Affairs Timothy Wineland, U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade priorities

WIBC discussions are open to WIBC members only. Not a member? Contact Alix for membership inquiries.


YOU NEED TO KNOW

China

In February 15 remarks at the Brookings Institute, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman addressed U.S.-China relations, outlining the administration’s strategy as “Invest, align, compete.” She emphasized that the United States will push back against Chinese efforts “that seek to coerce other countries, distort markets, and undermine American workers and businesses” but is open to collaboration on key areas such as “climate, food security, counter-narcotics, [and] global health.” 

Following the February 4 U.S. shootdown of a Chinese spy balloon, the administration on February 16 said that other objects shutdown in U.S. airspace over the weekend were not linked to China. President Biden addressed the ongoing situation in a February 16 press conference. 

In a February 15 Foreign Ministry briefing, China said it will take measures against U.S. entities related to the downing of the spy balloon but did not specify any details of such measures. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly may meet with his Chinese counterpart on the margins of the Munich Security Conference, in an attempt to deescalate tensions.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered on February 17 a major speech on progress combatting COVID, noting that the government believes it has now “effectively balanced pandemic containment with economic and social development.” Beijing also released the text of Xi’s December 2022 speech to the Central Economic Work Conference, which notably welcomed new foreign direct investment and called for “liberalizing market access for private investment.” 

Contact: Ethan Knecht, Pat Sheehy

Latin America

During his first visit to Washington since his return to the presidency, Brazilian President Lula da Silva traveled met with, among others, President Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and other progressive members of Congress, and the AFL-CIO. In a joint statement, President Biden agreed to visit Brazil sometime in the future and committed to “work with Congress” to provide unspecified funds for Brazil’s Amazon fund. 

While the joint statement noted discussions on trade, investment, and supply chains, there was no further announcement of substantive progress on economic cooperation or agreements. The countries agreed to restart the high-level U.S.-Brazil Climate Change Working Group, and U.S. Climate Special Envoy John Kerry will reportedly visit Brazil in the near future.

The Mexican government scrapped its deadline to ban genetically modified corn for animal feed and industrial use, but announced it would still prohibit the herbicide glyphosate and the use of GM corn for human consumption. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack expressed “disappointment” at the move, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Adrian Smith (R-NE) sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack and USTR Tai calling for the administration to initiate a formal USMCA dispute.  

On February 14, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) led a bipartisan letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai urging them to take action against an “unsustainable surge of Mexican steel imports.” 

Contact: Ethan Knecht, Steve Ziehm

Quick takes

  • The Departments of Commerce and Justice announced on February 16 a joint task force to disrupt adversaries like China from acquiring technology critical to U.S. national security.
  • World Bank President David Malpass has announced he will step down by June 30.  Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the United States would put forward a successor candidate to continue work on multilateral development bank reform with climate change and public health as priorities. 
  • The United States issued on February 16 a “Political Declaration on the Responsible Military Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Autonomy,” laying out a series of non-binding guidelines describing best practices for responsible use of AI in a defense context.
  • In its first meeting of 2023, the WTO Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade discussed a wide range of plastic production, trade, and waste issues and aimed to advance outcomes for the February 2024 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi, in alignment with the ongoing negotiation of a global plastic treaty. The Dialogue will next meet on March 13. 
  • The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) determined on February 13 that the United Kingdom and New Zealand qualify for exemption from certain reviews by the body. 

NOTICES, BILLS & HEARINGS

Federal Register Notices

Newly Introduced Legislation

House

  • H.R.1042 (McMorris Rodgers, R-WA) Prohibits the import of low enriched uranium from Russia.
  • H.R.1016 (Lesko, R-AZ) Prohibit U.S. entry of certain members of the Chinese Communist Party until China ceases theft of U.S. intellectual property.
  • H.R.988 (Allred, D-TX) Prohibits the establishment of a corporation used to conceal election contributions by foreign nationals. 
  • H.R.944 (Pfluger, R-TX) Requires U.S. higher education institutions to disclose ties to the Chinese government. 
  • H.R.942 (Obernolte, R-CA) Would add to the entity list foreigners that pose a threat to the security of supply chains of Internet of Things devices. 

Senate

  • S.520 (Scott, R-FL) Provides reports to Congress on China’s bilateral security agreements and joint police initiatives. 
  • S.504 (Scott, R-FL) Imposes sanctions against foreigners who conduct transactions relating to Cuban human rights violations.  
  • S.484 (Peters, D-MI) Would provide training and guidance relating to Uyghur human rights abuses.
  • S.481 (Scott, R-FL) Would impose sanctions to deter Chinese aggression against Taiwan.
  • S.480 (Tester, D-MT) Would establish a working group to evaluate threats to food security and animal health posed by beef imported from Brazil. 
  • S.477 (Scott, R-FL) Would give the President authority to use military force for the purpose of securing and defending Taiwan against armed attack. 
  • S.458 (Manchin, D-WV) Would establish a program to reduce the reliance of partnered  nations on Russian energy. 
  • S.451/S.450 (Lankford, R-OK) Would impose sanctions in response to Iranian and Russian aggression/Would strengthen export controls that destabilize Iranian activities. 
  • S.446 (Coons, D-DE) Would provide the President with authority to enter into plurilateral trade agreements with benefits. 
  • S.444 (Johnson, R-WI) Would require that any World Health Assembly agreement be subject to Senate ratification. 
  • S.442 (Barrasso, R-WY) Would prevent former Presidential appointees from representing the Chinese government. 
  • S.436 (Risch, R-ID) Would respond to the looming global food crisis precipitated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (reintroduces Securing Allies Food in Emergencies Act (SAFE Act)).
  • S.430 (Risch, R-ID) Would provide authority to enter into a cooperative agreement to protect civilians in Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula from weaponized unmanned aerial systems. 
  • S.416 (Wicker, R-MS) Would designate the Russian-based mercenary Wagner Group as a foreign terrorist organization.
  • S.415 (Thune, R-SD) Would provide reliable and evidence-based food and energy security. 
  • S.396 (Menendez, D-NJ) Would require the Secretary of State to impose sanctions on Haitian elites involved in criminal activities.

WHO’S WHO

Arrivals

  • Dr. Lael Brainard, National Economic Council (NEC) Director
  • Dr. Joelle Gamble, NEC Deputy Director
  • Ms. Natalie Quillian, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President
  • Ms. Sarah Beran, National Security Council (NSC) Senior Director for China and Taiwan
  • Mr. William Russo, Assistant Secretary of State for Global Public Affairs
  • Mr. Chris Bigelow, House Appropriations Committee Democratic Staff Director

Departures

  • Ms. Gina Ortiz Jones, Under Secretary of the Air Force
  • Ms. Laura Rosenberger, NSC Senior Director for China and Taiwan
  • Ambassador Philippe Etienne, French Ambassador to the United States

Want more scoops on personnel moves? Find the most recent Who’s Who here.


UPCOMING EVENTS

  • APEC First Senior Officials Meeting (Palm Springs), February 14-28
  • Munich Security Conference (Munich), February 17-19
  • African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government (Addis Ababa), February 18-19
  • EU Foreign Affairs Council (Brussels), February 20
  • U.S. Congress is in recess, February 20-24
  • ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (Bangkok), February 20-24
  • EU General Affairs Council (Brussels), February 21
  • USDA Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, February 23-24
  • G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting (Bengaluru), February 23-25
  • Nigerian General Elections, February 25

Looking farther ahead? Find the most recent full international events calendar here.

International Issues Update 2023/5

ON OUR DESKS

  • Reporting on anti-dumping proceedings related to tinplate steel
  • Organized and executed client congressional outreach 
  • Advised on the outlook for sanctions designations targeting select Russian firms

These are just examples of client service. How can we help you? Email any IBC counsellor for assistance or consult our issues list to find the expert you’re looking for.


WIBC DISCUSSIONS

Upcoming WIBC events:

  • February 15: Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Labor Josh Kagan, Combatting forced labor and labor priorities in trade negotiations
  • February 16: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia Rick Waters, U.S.-China relations and China House’s relationship with the business community

WIBC discussions are open to WIBC members only. Not a member? Contact Alix for membership inquiries.


YOU NEED TO KNOW

China

After shooting down a Chinese spy balloon last week, the United States revealed on February 9 that the balloon “was capable of conducting signals intelligence collection operations” and was part of a fleet that had flown over “more than 40 countries across five continents.” Media reports indicate a second object (as yet unidentified) was shot down over Alaska on February 10.

President Biden’s February 7 State of the Union address reiterated that the United States seeks competition, not conflict, with China and emphasized working with China where possible to “advance American interests and benefit the world.” President Biden did refer to Chinese President Xi Jinping by name and defended his actions on the balloon, saying the United States would protect itself if “China threatens our sovereignty” and had done so in this case. 

In a rare display of bipartisanship, the House on February 9 voted 419-0 to censure Beijing for its violation of U.S. airspace, but the parties split over assessing the Biden administration’s response. During a February 9 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Chairman Menendez (D-NJ) called for increased funding to expand U.S. diplomacy and development efforts to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region. 

The House Financial Services Committee February 7 hearing on economic threats from China served as a platform to introduce 14 bills, primarily focused on Taiwan and financial threats. The House Armed Services Committee held on February 7 a hearing focused on China’s threat to U.S. national defense. 

Contact: Chris Benscher

Buy American

During the State of the Union, President Biden announced he will release “new standards to require all construction materials used in federal infrastructure projects to be made in America.”  The administration is expected to release the new proposed rule in the coming weeks. President Biden insisted that new procurement plans guided by a “Buy American” principle would not violate U.S. trade commitments, including the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement.

The 2021 Build America Buy America Act, enacted as part of the infrastructure bill, already requires that “all iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in covered infrastructure projects” are made in the U.S., as described by the Commerce Department. There is still significant confusion among industry, federal, state, and local agencies regarding the difference between a construction material and a manufactured product and what manufacturing processes must occur domestically for construction materials.

Contact: Chris Benscher

Central America

Vice President Harris announced a new Central America Forward framework under the Partnership for Central America (PCA), prioritizing goals in key areas like agriculture, digital access, education and training, and infrastructure. 

The framework also identifies several new steps the administration is taking to support private sector investments in the region, including: the creation of a U.S. Government Northern Central America Investment Facilitation Team; increased access to DFC’s financing for private sector-led projects; the establishment of USAID workforce development programs; and the publication of a Business-Enabling Environment Action Plan. The U.S. Export-Import Bank also announced that it is looking to use its tools to support the Central America Forward initiative.

In Nicaragua, the Ortega regime unilaterally released more than 200 political prisoners, who were stripped of their citizenship and then deported to the United States. The State Department called the move a “constructive step” and said it “opens the door to further dialogue.”

Contact: Ethan Knecht

Quick takes

  • Pro-western Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița resigned, under Russian economic and political pressure and facing rising inflation. Earlier in the week, Moldova objected to Russian missiles transiting the country’s airspace.
  • EU leaders convened February 9-10 for a special summit in Brussels, discussing the war in Ukraine as it approaches the one-year mark, as well as the European response to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act. Joining the summit after visits to London and Paris, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the EU to provide additional military support and advance Ukraine’s EU accession process.
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen outlined on February 9 four priorities for World Bank reform: expanding the bank’s mandate beyond poverty reduction and shared prosperity; creating new incentives to tackle global challenges like climate change; expanding operations to subnational entities; and better stretching financial resources, such as by mobilizing private capital. Secretary Yellen also criticized China’s slow pace of debt restructurings in developing countries like Zambia.  
  • The United States hosted the first round of “conceptual discussions” under the U.S.-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP). Launched in July 2022, the STIP aims to achieve “high standard commitments” in areas such as agriculture, anti-corruption, digital trade, and the environment

NOTICES, BILLS & HEARINGS

Federal Register Notices

Newly Introduced Legislation

House

  • H.R.958 (Steel, R-CA) Would renew required reports on North Korea arms trafficking and cybersecurity and North Korea’s relations with Iran. 
  • H.R.956 (Smith, R-NJ) Would prohibit oil and gas exploration, development, and production in the North Atlantic Planning Area of the Outer Continental Shelf
  • H.R.944 (Pfluger, R-TX) Would require institutions of higher education to disclose certain ties to organizations affiliated with the Chinese government.
  • H.R.932 (Lee, D-CA) Would repeal the military force authorization against Iraq.
  • H.R.931 (Kustoff, R-TN) Would report on oligarchs and representative entities of Iran.
  • H.R.917 (Gonzales, R-TX) Requires CFIUS to review real estate purchases or leases near military installations by any foreign person connected or subsidized by Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea.
  • H.R.892 (Bice, R-OK) Would convert the value of seized Russian assets to contribute to humanitarian assistance in Ukraine.
  • H.R.869 (Wilson, R-SC) Would require the Secretary of State to review whether certain Iranian officials are eligible for entry into the United States. 
  • H.R.844 (Obernolte, R-CA) Would allow an owner of a trade secret redress of the theft of trade secrets extraterritorially.

Senate

  • S.377 (Graham, R-SC) Would prevent the Homeland Security Department from requiring repayment, recoupment, or offset of certain antidumping duties and countervailing duties already paid.
  • S.369 (Cruz, R-TX) Requires CFIUS to review real estate purchases or leases near military installations by any foreign person connected or subsidized by Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea.
  • S.360 (Cruz, R-TX) Would address the foreign threats to U.S. higher education.
  • S.347 (Rubio, R-FL) Would protect Americans from foreign threats through social media.
  • S.316 (Kaine, D-VA) Would repeal the military force authorization against Iraq.
  • S.308 (Romney, R-UT) Would end China’s treatment as a developing nation. 
  • S.295 (Young, R-IN) Would grant authorities to combat economic coercion by foreign adversaries.

Upcoming Congressional hearings 

Senate


WHO’S WHO

Arrivals

  • Chas Morrison, House Select Committee on China Policy Director 
  • David Hanke, House Select Committee on China Staff Director 
  • Eric Morrissette, Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of Commerce 
  • Jeannette Chu, NFTC Vice President for National Security Policy
  • Mary Frances Repko, White House Deputy National Climate Advisor

Departures

  • Alondra Nelson, OSTP Principal Deputy Director for Science and Society
  • Brian Deese, National Economic Council Director
  • Varun Sivaram, Senior Advisor for Clean Energy and Innovation to the Special Envoy for Climate Change

Want more scoops on personnel moves? Find the most recent Who’s Who here.


UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Senate in session/House in recess, February 13-17
  • EU Eurogroup Ministerial (Brussels), February 13
  • U.S.-Vietnam bilaterals to discuss IPEF (Hanoi), February 13-15 
  • EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Brussels), February 14-15
  • OECD Ministerial Meeting on Responsible Business Conduct (Paris), February 14-15
  • ASEAN Defense Senior Officials’ Meeting (Indonesia), February 14-16
  • APEC First Senior Officials’ Meeting (Palm Springs), February 14-28
  • U.S.-Malaysia bilaterals to discuss IPEF (Kuala Lumpur), February 16
  • Munich Security Conference (Munich), February 17-19
  • USTR Tai visits Munich, February 17

Looking farther ahead? Find the most recent full international events calendar here.

International Issues Update 2022/24

ON OUR DESKS

  • Developing client priorities for Congressional engagement, including on the Farm Bill
  • Analyzing U.S. mining reform proposals 
  • Investigating U.S. government sectoral interests in key markets
  • Facilitating client connections with USAID 

These are just examples of client service. How can we help you? Email any IBC counsellor for assistance or consult our issues list to find the expert you’re looking for.


WIBC DISCUSSIONS

Upcoming WIBC events:

  • February 9: Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert, Economic and political priorities in the Middle East

WIBC discussions are open to WIBC members only. Not a member? Contact Alix for membership inquiries.


YOU NEED TO KNOW

Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is hosting on February 3 in Kyiv the EU-Ukraine Summit with EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, Council President Charles Michel, and other senior bloc leadership in attendance. Zelenskyy announced a reform action plan aiming to align Ukraine with EU economic approaches (including in industry, agricultural, energy, digital services, transport, financial, [and] customs issues) and said Ukraine’s goal is to begin EU accession negotiations before the end of 2023. EU leaders, while generally supportive of Ukraine’s EU aspirations, have cautioned that the process cannot be rushed.  

The EU announced a seventh defense assistance package worth €500 million and a new €45 million training assistance measure for Ukrainian personnel. The United States announced new security assistance, including air defense and counter-drone capabilities,  armored infantry vehicles, and ammunition for previously transferred systems. The U.S. actions are collectively valued at $2.175 billion.

Contact: Pat Sheehy

China

Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed his planned visit to Beijing following reports of a Chinese blimp U.S. officials described as an “espionage platform,” seen flying over U.S. nuclear facilities in Montana. Chinese authorities claimed the aircraft is a wayward “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes.” While the Defense Department said the blimp posed little current risk, State Department officials characterized the overflight as a “clear violation of our sovereignty, as well as international law…” 

Blinken’s visit had been intended to lay groundwork for a meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, which may now also be delayed. The episode may inflame sentiments in both countries and could advance the timetable for a variety of U.S. measures aimed at countering China. 

Contact: Pat Sheehy, Ethan Knecht

Forced Labor

The United States on February 3 took the significant step of removing a ban on imports of palm oil from the largest Indonesian producer, Sime Darby. The ban was put in place in 2020 due to indicators of forced labor at the firm’s plantations. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) lifted restrictions after Sime Darby provided information about reform of its labor practices and evidence it no longer produces palm oil using forced labor. Of particular note, Sime Darby reimbursed workers $20 million in “recruitment fees,” paid to secure employment with the firm. The fees contributed to a scenario that CBP Executive Assistant Commissioner AnnMarie Highsmith described as “debt bondage.” 

The Department of Homeland Security also released its annual report on human trafficking. The report details, among other issues, broader DHS efforts on forced labor in FY2022. 

Contact: Pat Sheehy

South America

In a wide-ranging interview preceding his February 9-10 visit to Washington, Brazilian President Lula da Silva said priorities for conversation with President Biden include the U.S.-Brazil bilateral trade relationship, U.S.-Mercosur relations, climate and the environment, and the war in Ukraine. In contrast to his predecessor’s relatively isolationist stance, Lula outlined a more aggressive and active Brazilian foreign policy, including his desire to form a group of neutral countries to seek a peaceful conclusion to the war in Ukraine. Lula also hopes Brazil can act as a mediator with Cuba and Venezuela. 

German Chancellor Scholz traveled to Brazil, Argentina, and Chile as the EU and Mercosur look to ratify their long-stalled free trade agreement and ahead of an EU-Latin America summit this July. Scholz signed agreements on mining and climate change cooperation with Chile and on economic cooperation with Argentina. Rebuffing Scholz’s attempts to use the trip to rally support for Ukraine, Brazil and Argentina declined to send arms, and Chile pledged only to support Ukraine’s reconstruction after the war’s conclusion.

Contact: Ethan Knecht

Quick takes

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) formally released the zero draft of a “convention, treaty or other international instrument” on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. Negotiations will resume February 27-March 3 in Geneva. The draft includes provisions on waiving intellectual property rights during pandemics; requiring companies to disclose details of public contracts for vaccines and treatments; and enabling WHO to reserve for use in poorer countries 20% of global supply of tests, vaccines or treatments.
  • USTR’s annual report on notorious markets for counterfeiting and piracy found that China continues to be the top source of counterfeit products in the world.  Goods from China, together with transshipped goods from China to Hong Kong, accounted for 75% of the value of counterfeit and pirated goods seized by CBP in 2021.
  • USTR is seeking comments on possible extension of Section 301 tariff exclusions on COVID-related imports from China, currently in place until May 15. USTR is asking whether these exclusions should be extended for an additional six months.
  • The Senate Agriculture Committee’s first hearing on the 2023 Farm Bill focused on trade, with Senators particularly emphasizing trade agreement enforcement (primarily, related to Mexico), foreign market access, and support for underserved producers.

NOTICES, BILLS & HEARINGS

Federal Register Notices

Newly Introduced Legislation

House

  • H.R.825 (Waltz, R-FL) Prohibits contracting with Maduro regime connected businesses.
  • H.R.809 (Newhouse, R-WA) Prohibits certain foreign persons from U.S. agriculture real estate purchases.
  • H.R.804 (Newhouse, R-MO) Prohibits certain transactions involving China’s central bank digital currency.
  • H.R.803 (Lucas, R-OK) Requires financial regulators to exclude Chinese government representatives from certain banking organizations.
  • H.R.801 (Lesko, R-AZ) Would suspend imports from designated countries to prevent the spread of diseases.
  • H.R.797 (Khanna, D-CA) Would place a moratorium on large concentrated animal feeding operations to require country of origin labeling on beef, pork, and dairy products.
  • H.R.796 (Kelly, D-IL) Would establish an office of supply chain resiliency in the Department of Commerce. 
  • H.R.784 (Fulcher, R-ID) Would require web based sales companies to disclose ownership by entities located in China.
  • H.R.760 (Barr, R-KY) Would impose sanctions on Chinese military surveillance companies.
  • H.R.759 (Barr, R-KY) Would limit U.S. financial institutional engagement in Russian energy transactions.
  • H.R.752 (Eshoo, D-CA) Would require SelectUSA to coordinate with State-level economic development organizations to increase foreign direct investment in semiconductors.
  • H.R.748/H.R.747 (Tenney, R-NY) Would prohibit the distribution of federal funds to Chinese entities for certain public works projects/ Would require the SEC to require disclosures of issuers that have connections to China.
  • H.R.722 (Green, R-TN) Would decrease dependency on Chinese manufacturing and decrease migration due to lost regional opportunities. 
  • H.R.690/H.R.686/H.R.683 (Steube, R-FL) Would impose sanctions on persons engaging in Afghanistan rare earth minerals/Requires continuation of export controls on Huawei/Prevents certain agricultural transactions. 
  • H.R.647 (Johnson, R-OH) Would repeal restrictions on natural gas exports and imports.
  • H.R.638 (Smith, R-NJ) Would withdraw China from normal trade relations treatment.
  • H.R.589 (Banks, R-IN) Would impose sanctions on the Supreme Leader and President of Iran.

Senate

  • S.257 (Scott, R-FL) Prohibits contracting with Maduro regime connected businesses.
  • S.256 (Cruz, R-TX) Would terminate sanction waivers for Iran under the JCPOA.
  • S.229 (Peters, D-MI) Would require SelectUSA to coordinate with State-level economic development organizations to increase foreign direct investment in semiconductors.
  • S.190 (Rubio, R-FL) Would prohibit oil exports to China. 
  • S.168 (Rounds, R-SD) Would require a CFIUS review of certain agricultural transactions.
  • S.158 (Durbin, D-IL) Would establish goals and marshall private investment to expand exports to Latin America and Africa.
  • S.153 (Rubio, R-FL) Would safeguard certain U.S. technology and IP from Chinese influence.
  • S.150 (Cornyn, R-TX) Would amend the FTC to prohibit product hopping.

Upcoming Congressional hearings 

House

Senate


WHO’S WHO

Arrivals

  • Kenneth Schragin, Assistant USTR for Services and Investment
  • Louis Bono, State Department Senior Advisor for Caucus Negotiations 
  • Sarah Ladislaw, NSC Senior Director for Climate and Energy
  • Sean Bartlett, U.S. Ex-Im Bank SVP for Communications & External Engagement

Departures

  • Allison Varricchio, NSC Director for Afghanistan
  • Brian Deese, Director of the National Economic Council 
  • Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture

Want more scoops on personnel moves? Find the most recent Who’s Who here.


UPCOMING EVENTS

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat (Indonesia), February 3-4
  • Ecuador constitutional reforms referendum, February 5 
  • President Biden delivers the State of the Union Address, February 7
  • State of the Union, February 7
  • Brazilian President Lula da Silva travels to Washington, February 9-10

    EU Council Meeting (Brussels), February 9-10

Looking farther ahead? Find the most recent full international events calendar here.