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Note: Today’s International Issues Update (IIU) is the last before a holiday hiatus. The IIU will not be published December 22 or 29, and publication will resume on January 5.
Upcoming WIBC events:
- January 9: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Ambassador Kevin Sullivan, U.S. economic engagement with South America
- January 11: OFAC Associate Director for Sanctions Policy and Implementation Lisa Palluconi, Sanctions policy priorities
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YOU NEED TO KNOW
A bipartisan House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party report on U.S.-China economic competition called for charting “a new path that puts national security, economic security, and values at the core of the U.S.-PRC relationship.” Reflecting on its past year of hearings, the committee identified a number of key concerns including Chinese industrial subsidy policies, intellectual property theft, and economic risk reduction in the event of a possible future U.S.-PRC conflict. The committee also identified U.S. dependence on Chinese exports of rare earth minerals, weapon systems components, and pharmaceutical products and precursors as a major concern.
The report recommended: resetting the terms of the U.S. economic relationship with China; stemming the flow of U.S. technology and capital into China; and investing in U.S. technological leadership and building collective economic resilience with allies. Specific recommendations under these pillars include broadening authorities of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS); expanding sanctions and export controls and strengthening their enforcement; moving China to a new tariff column and imposing new duties on Chinese imports to the United States, and requiring large U.S. public companies to disclose key risks related to the PRC.
The Biden administration declined to comment on the Committee’s recommendations but called for targeting specific sectors of the Chinese economy that threaten U.S. national security while still maintaining “the ability to work with China both on issues of mutual concern.” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen further detailed the U.S. strategy towards China in a December 14 speech, reiterating that the administration does not seek to decouple from China.
As U.S. leaders discussed decoupling from the Chinese economy, the CCP’s leadership met for its annual Central Economic Work Conference. Though the government remained somewhat positive about the economy’s trajectory, it acknowledged widespread problems. The conference’s report called for additional support for “strategic emerging sectors” rather than large scale stimulus. It also focused on security and relatively downplayed the importance of economic reform. The conference followed a recent meeting of the CCP’s Politburo, which called for stabilizing trade and foreign investment and a cautious monetary policy in 2024.
The House and Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2024, which is expected to be signed by President Biden. The NDAA includes an extension of the Section 702 surveillance program, a 5.2% pay raise for troops, and bars any future president from leaving NATO without the Senate’s approval. The final NDAA excluded many proposed House and Senate amendments related to China but authorizes $886.3 billion in spending on U.S. national security programs, though the funds have yet to be appropriated.
The Senate was scheduled to recess Friday but will remain in session at least through the weekend and likely Monday to complete a supplemental foreign aid spending package set to include border policy changes in a deal intended to also allow advancing authorization of Ukraine and Israel funding. Even if the Senate passes a package, it is unlikely to be enacted this month, as the House has recessed and is not likely to return before January. Negotiations on the foreign aid supplemental are also impacting a must-pass three month Federal Aviation Authorization (FAA) extension, which has passed the House and must pass the Senate by December 31.
Contact: Chris Benscher
The UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai concluded with agreement on a declaration calling for a transition away from fossil fuels “in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner.” Signatories to the declaration also agreed to triple the world’s renewable energy capacity and double the average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements. Critics say the declaration does not go far enough, as it avoids calling for a phase out of fossil fuels.
Food systems were a strong secondary focus of COP28, which featured the first formal food and agriculture thematic day and saw endorsement of the first COP declaration on food and agriculture. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released two landmark reports, including a December 8 report on reducing livestock emissions and a December 10 roadmap to achieve zero hunger (SDG 2) while not exceeding the 1.5C threshold on climate. While media reporting prior to COP28 indicated recommendations would focus on dietary shifts, particularly to reduce meat and dairy consumption, the two reports focused on holistic approaches to transforming agrifood systems, including through sustainable productivity intensification in livestock production systems. The FAO will release further implementing reports for the roadmap at future COPs.
Despite delays in agreeing the location for COP29, the UN climate change secretariat announced on December 10 that Azerbaijan will host COP29 in Baku. Brazil will host COP30 in Belem.
Guyanese President Irfaan Ali and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro met December 14 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to discuss the status of the Essequibo region following Venezuela’s recent aggression. Though Venezuela agreed in a statement to refrain from further escalating the conflict, the Maduro regime declined to recognize the International Court of Justice’s jurisdiction. Both sides agreed to establish a joint commission on the border dispute and to meet again in Brazil within the next three months to further discuss the issue.
Meanwhile in Argentina, the new government of President Javier Milei announced on December 12 a raft of economic policies, including import tax raises, export tax extensions, the restoration of personal income taxes, and a major peso devaluation. Milei’s administration also announced a freeze on certain public works spending, a reduction of energy and transportation subsidies, and the elimination of half of the government’s ministries.
Argentina’s legislative leaders warned that Milei’s government would have to make concessions to achieve its economic policies, while the country’s leftist opposition leaders and union heads vowed to fight the new government’s plans. The IMF, by contrast, welcomed the measures and argued that the new policies would “significantly improve public finances in a manner that protects the most vulnerable in society.” U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Pyle also met with President Milei the day after the reforms were announced to discuss the new economic policies, as well as possible clean energy transition and private sector investment cooperation.
- The European Council announced it will open accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova, grant EU candidate status to Georgia, and open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina once it has met necessary criteria. EU leaders also agreed, in principle, to adopt a 12th package of sanctions targeting Russia, pending resolution of final procedural measures. The EU failed to approve a €50 billion aid package to Ukraine due to a veto by Hungary.
- The United States and EU are reportedly nearing an agreement that will extend the existing U.S. tariff rate quotas (TRQs) on EU steel and aluminum imports for two years in exchange for a continued suspension of EU retaliation on the U.S. Section 232 tariffs on metal imports.
- State and Treasury announced on December 13 sanctions on approximately 250 persons supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, targeting parties in Türkiye, the UAE, and China.
- The House passed the “Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act” that would ban uranium imports from Russia 90 days after coming into effect, but with a generous waiver if the Department of Energy determines no alternative source is available. An identical Senate version with bipartisan support is still awaiting committee consideration.
- A bipartisan group of 38 House members sent a letter calling on the Biden administration to strengthen U.S. sanctions targeting Russia’s seafood sector.
NOTICES, BILLS & HEARINGS
Federal Register Notices
- Commerce/BIS, Denial of export privileges: Norwind Airlines, Pobeda Airlines, Siberian Airlines, Dec 14
- Commerce/BIS, Export controls on semiconductor manufacturing items, Dec 15
- Commerce/ITA, Request for comment on Steel Import License, Dec 12
- Health and Human Services, Fourth meeting of the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Dec 13
- Homeland Security, Notice of President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council meeting, Dec 13
- Homeland Security/CBP, Implementation testing for Mobile Collections & Receipts, Dec 15
- ITC, Call for submissions for 2024 annual report on recent trends in U.S. services trade, Dec 15
- Office of the President, Suspension of entry as immigrants and nonimmigrants of persons enabling corruption, Dec 14
- Office of the President, Continuation of the national emergency with respect to the global illicit drug trade, Dec 14
- Treasury, Request for comment on Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, Dec 15
- Treasury/FinCEN, Applications for membership on Bank Secrecy Act Advisory Group, Dec 15
- Treasury/IRS, Section 45X advanced manufacturing production credit, Dec 15
- Treasury/OFAC, Russia sanctions designations, Dec 11
- Treasury/OFAC, Belarus sanctions designations, Dec 12
- Treasury/OFAC, Terrorism sanctions designations, Dec 12
- Treasury/OFAC, Russia sanctions designations, Dec 12
- Treasury/OFAC, Central African Republic sanctions designations, Dec 14
- Treasury/OFAC, South Sudan sanctions designations, Dec 14
- Treasury/OFAC, DRC sanctions designations, Dec 14
- Treasury/OFAC, Mexico sanctions designations, Dec 15
- H.R.6695 (Davidson, R-OH) – Would authorize private parties to compel the SEC to seek sanctions by filing civil actions.
- H.R.6724 (Garameni, D-CA) – Would require a certain percentage of natural gas and crude oil exports to be transported on U.S.-built and U.S.-flag vessels.
- H.R.6730 (Roy, R-TX) – Would rescind amounts made available for the Department of Commerce Nonrecurring Expenses Fund by the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023.
- H.R.6733 (Stefanik, R-NY) – Would monitor U.S. investments in entities that are controlled by foreign adversaries.
- H.R.6837 (Tonko, D-NY) – Would prohibit the circumvention of control measures used by internet retailers to ensure equitable consumer access to products.
- H.R.6831 (Salazar, R-FL) – Would reauthorize the Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development Act of 2019.
- H.R.6816 (Hern, R-OK) – Would prohibit the availability of Federal education funds for elementary and secondary schools that receive direct or indirect support from the PRC.
- H.R.6811 (Garbarino, R-NY) – Would amend the 1990 Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act to provide for high-priority research and extension grants for natural climate solutions.
- H.R.6802 (Craig, D-MN) – Would improve supply chain resilience for critical drug products with vulnerable supply chains.
- H.R.6797 (Casto, D-TX) – Would provide for enhanced U.S. leadership at international organizations.
- H.R.6762 (Miller, R-WV) – Would amend the Internal Revenue Code to disallow companies associated with foreign adversaries from receiving the advanced manufacturing production credit.
- H.R.6760 (Luetkemeyer, R-MO) – Would prohibit U.S. contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Green Climate Fund.
- S.3531 (Lee, R-UT) – Would prohibit actions to carry out the Department of Commerce’s pause in the issuance of new export licenses for certain exports under the Commerce Control List.
- S.3527 (Scott, R-FL) – Would prohibit the Secretary of Treasury from engaging in transactions involving the exchange of Special Drawing Rights issued by the IMF that are held by Iran.
- S.3521 (Cortez Masto, D-NV) – Would establish a credit for the domestic production of rare earth magnets.
- S.3500 (Markey, D-MA) – Would amend the 1990 Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act to provide for high-priority research and extension grants for natural climate solutions.
- S.3496 (Braun, R-IN) – Would amend the Energy Policy Act to address measuring methane emissions.
- S.3491 (Schmitt, R-MO) – Would prohibit U.S. contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Green Climate Fund.
- S.3476 (Rubio, R-FL) – Would monitor U.S. investments in entities that are controlled by foreign adversaries.
- S.3471 (Grassley, R-IA) – Would require the Secretary of Agriculture to publish a report on the fertilizer industry.
- S.3467 (Wicker, R-MS) – Would require a certain percentage of natural gas and crude oil exports to be transported on U.S.-built and U.S.-flag vessels.
- S.3461 (R-TN) – Would impose certain requirements relating to the renegotiation or reentry into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or other agreement relating to Iran’s nuclear program.
- Alexander Yui, Taiwan’s Representative to the United States
- Amy Friedman, Chief of Staff to Senator Bennet (D-CO)
- Bryant Trick, Assistant USTR for Europe and the Middle East
- Jeanette Quick, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Institutions Policy
- Laura Daniels, NSC director for Western Europe
- Gary Stanley, Director of the ITA’s Office of Critical Minerals and Metals
Want more scoops on personnel moves? Find the most recent Who’s Who here.
- Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo participates in the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum (Brasilia), Dec 15
- House is in recess, Senate is in session, Dec 16 ~ ?
- Chile national constitutional plebiscite, Dec 17
- EU Environment Council meeting (Brussels), Dec 18
- EU Transport, Telecom, and Energy Council (Brussels), Dec 19
- Democratic Republic of the Congo presidential elections, Dec 20
- Belgium assumes the rotating EU Council presidency, January-June
- Laos ASEAN host year opens, Ongoing
- Peru APEC host year opens, Ongoing
- Italy assumes the 2024 G7 presidency, Jan 1
- Russia assumes the 2024 BRICS presidency, and Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates accede to the group, Jan 1
- Taiwan presidential elections, Jan 13
- Iowa Republican presidential caucuses, Jan 15
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.