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International Issues Update 2023/40

By October 27, 2023No Comments


  • Activating against import permitting delays in Mexico
  • Alerting clients to opportunities to support the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill 
  • Advising on House Speaker election impact for client priorities

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.


In case you missed it:

  • October 25 Virtual Meeting: Senior U.S. Trade Representative for Mexico Carlos Romero, U.S. trade policy with Mexico
  • October 26: Acting Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South and Central Asia Brendan Lynch, U.S. trade priorities with India and South Asia

Upcoming WIBC Events:

  • November 1: Commerce Deputy Chief IPEF Negotiator Eric Holloway, IPEF pillar II-IV trade priorities

REMINDER: Our client portal, WIBC calendar, and other resources are available at

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


House Speaker election implications

The House of Representatives on October 25 elected Congressman Mike Johnson (R-LA-4) as Speaker. Since he took office in 2016, Speaker Johnson’s record on key economic and trade issues has included voting in favor of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA); against climate program funding and U.S. accession to the Paris Climate Agreement; and against the Infrastructure, CHIPS and Science, and Inflation Reduction Acts.  

While he has held that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine cannot be allowed to succeed and in 2022 voted in favor of facilitating military aid, Speaker Johnson has expressed skepticism on additional funding for Ukraine and voted against previous Ukraine funding bills. He is in favor of “debilitating sanctions” on Russia and has maintained tough positions on China. In the wake of Hamas’ October 7 attacks on Israel, Speaker Johnson has strongly supported Israel. He has called for separate votes on funding for Israel and Ukraine.

In an October 23 letter detailing his legislative priorities, Speaker Johnson appears to support additional continuing resolutions to fund the government, possibly even as long as into April 2024. The letter lays out a schedule to include passage of key appropriations bills by the end of December, including the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill which passed on October 26 and would block implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) climate programs. That bill and other House appropriations bills would be opposed by Senate Democrats, and the President has vowed to veto several if they moved to his desk.

Contact: Chris Benscher

Digital trade

In the context of plurilateral negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on e-commerce this week, the United States backed away from supporting proposals on data flows, data localization and source code.  

USTR spokesman Sam Michel noted that “many countries, including the United States, are examining their approaches to data and source code, and the impact of trade rules in these areas.” USTR justified the shift as providing “enough policy space for those debates to unfold.” The United States reportedly remains committed to reaching a deal on the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on E-Commerce by the end of the year.  

The decision provoked strong bipartisan condemnation from Congress. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) “blasted” the decision, stating that “USTR’s decision to walk away from the negotiating table in Geneva is a win for China, plain and simple.” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) said the “decision to walk away from longstanding bipartisan positions on digital trade undermines American leadership and competitiveness, surrenders the playing field to the Chinese Communist Party, and abandons our closest trading partners,” citing it as “part of a broader, misguided policy of the Biden Administration to circumvent the will of Congress with a go-it-alone approach to trade policy.”  

Contact: Stephen Ziehm

Latin America

Results of October 22 elections in several South American countries hold significant potential to affect the region’s economic and political trajectory. 

Venezuelan National Assembly Deputy María Corina Machado won the opposition’s primary election with more than 90% of the vote, just days after the United States lowered sanctions in recognition of a deal between the Maduro regime and the opposition. Cracks have already begun to show in the agreement, with the Maduro regime opening criminal investigations against opposition leaders and allies accusing the opposition of “inflating” the number of primary votes. 

Meanwhile, in Argentina’s first-round of presidential elections, incumbent Peronist Economy Minister Sergio Massa narrowly held a narrow margin over far-right libertarian Javier Milei, who has proposed dollarizing the Argentine economy. Polling suggests the two are virtually tied for a November 19 run-off.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols traveled to Central America from October 23-27, with a significant stop in El Salvador and meetings with President Bukele, as well as civil society and business leaders. The trip is notable because it comes after several years of tense relations between the Biden and Bukele administrations due in part to concerns over the Bukele administration’s consistent human rights and rule of law violations.

Contact: Ethan Knecht

Asia Pacific

The sixth round of negotiations on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) concluded October 25 in Malaysia. USTR and Commerce announced progress under Pillars I (Trade), III (Clean Economy), and IV (Fair Economy). The Administration aims to conclude all IPEF negotiations before the end of this year.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese conducted a state visit to Washington on October 25. Prior to the visit the countries held the first meeting of the U.S.-Australia Critical Minerals Taskforce and convened a government-to-business, Critical Minerals Industry Roundtable to identify areas for joint action to support critical minerals projects. The leaders announced projects to further develop graphite and lithium production, in particular. 

In the days after the Australian state visit, President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken each met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, discussing a range of issues including a potential Biden-Xi meeting, the detentions of U.S. citizens, and the Israel-Hamas war. The meetings came just after California Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) became the first U.S. governor to visit China since the pandemic and met with Chinese President Xi.  

Contact: Pat Sheehy, Stephen Ziehm

Quick takes

  • Last week’s U.S.-EU Summit reportedly made progress on steel/aluminum and critical minerals negotiations but did not reach agreements. The Summit joint statement focused on foreign policy coordination on the Middle East, Ukraine, and China.
  • Commerce announced on October 24 it will review Vietnam’s non-market economy status, following a September 8 request from the government of Vietnam. 
  • The 2023 implementation plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic region (NSAR) calls for deep harbor development in Nome, Alaska, as well as smaller ports, airfields, and other infrastructure. EXIM, DFC, and USTDA will expand their work to support investments throughout the region, particularly in critical minerals. 
  • The Justice Department published on October 24 several advisory opinions providing rare guidance on compliance with the notoriously vague Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The anonymized opinions provide detail on possible exemptions, including situations where foreign firms’ commercial activity may be exempted from FARA requirements.


Federal Register Notices

Newly Introduced Legislation


  • H.R.6010 (McCormick, R-GA) – Would invalidate the use of United States passports to travel to Iran.
  • H.R.6015 (Luetkemeyer, R-MO) – Would require the President to prevent the abuse of financial sanctions exemptions by Iran.
  • H.R.6017 (Steel, R-CA) – Would revoke the waiver determination submitted to Congress on September 11, 2023, with respect to certain sanctions imposed with respect to Iran.
  • H.R.6024 (Dean, D-PA) – Would amend the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 to extend the increased transfer authority for a certain study on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances contamination in drinking water.
  • H.R.6046 (Clyde, R-GA) – Would designate Ansarallah as a foreign terrorist organization and impose certain sanctions on Ansarallah.
  • H.R.6051 (Hill, R-AR) – Would require the Secretary of the Treasury to report on financial institutions’ involvement with officials of the Iranian Government.
  • H.R.6053 (Huffman, D-CA) – Would amend the Solid Waste Disposal Act.
  • H.R.6057 (McClain, R-MI) – Would limit the United States from rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
  • H.R.6060 (Ogles, R-TN) – To prohibit any United States assistance from being made available for programs, projects, or activities located in Palestinian-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria or Gaza.
  • H.R.6066 (Tenney, R-NY) – Would prohibit funding to international organizations that provide resources or other support to foreign terrorist organizations.
  • H.R.6076 (Cartwright, D-PA) – Would establish the Financing Energy Efficient Manufacturing Program at the Department of Energy to provide financial assistance to promote energy efficiency and onsite renewable technologies in manufacturing facilities.
  • H.R.6079 (DeLauro, D-CT) – Would strengthen protections against child labor violations.
  • H.R.6089 (Langworthy, R-NY) – Would prohibit States or local governments from prohibiting the connection, reconnection, modification, installation, or expansion of an energy service based on the type or source of energy to be delivered.
  • H.R.6096 (Mooney, R-WV) – Would require annual reports on allied contributions to the common defense.
  • H.R.6099 (Ogles, R-TN) – Would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for the expedited removal of aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States and are residents of Palestinian-administered territories within Judea and Samaria or Gaza.
  • H.R.6105 (Schakowsky, D-IL) – Would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to deem certain substances to be unsafe for use as food contact substances.
  • H.R.6106 (Sherrill, D-NJ) – Would create a risk framework to evaluate foreign mobile applications of concern.


  • S.3084 (Wyden, D-OR) – Would implement a taxation treaty between the U.S. and Taiwan to end double taxation.
  • S.3110 (Rubio, R-FL) – Would support U.S. policy toward Taiwan.
  • S.3114 (Lankford, R-OK) – Would develop and deploy firewall circumvention tools for the people of Hong Kong after the People’s Republic of China violated its agreement under the Joint Declaration.
  • S.3127 (Merkley, D-OR)- Would amend the Solid Waste Disposal Act.
  • S.3135 (Marshall, R-KS) – Would make emergency supplemental appropriations for assistance for the situation in Israel for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2024.
  • S.3150 (Scott, R-FL) – Would prohibit representatives of the United States from voting at the International Monetary Fund for any Special Drawing Rights allocations, quota increases, or policy modifications that would benefit certain countries.
  • S.3159 (Cruz, R-TX) – Would establish a Venezuela Restoration Fund.
  • S.Con.Res.23 (Cassidy, R-LA) – A concurrent resolution that expresses the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the economy of the United States.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings





  • James Mann, Legislative Director to Senator Moore Capito (R-WV)
  • Jon Donenberg, National Economic Council Deputy Director
  • Leanne Noelani Howard, NSC Special Adviser for the NATO Summit
  • Congressman Mike Johnson (R-LA), Speaker of the House
  • Sarah Morgenthau, State Department Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs


  • Chidi Blyden, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs
  • Mark Mowrey, Deputy Assistant USTR for Eurasia and the Middle East

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


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

Any issue areas you would like highlighted? Have a specific monitoring request? Reach out to us.