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International Issues Update 2024/01

By January 5, 2024No Comments

ON OUR DESKS

  • Updating clients on trajectory of U.S.-China relations, expected administration approaches, and key stakeholders for engagement
  • Analyzing political and economic developments impacting operations in Venezuela 
  • Alerting clients to China tariff exclusion extensions and comment opportunities

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:

  • January 9: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South America Ambassador Kevin Sullivan, U.S. economic engagement with South America
  • January 11: OFAC Deputy Director Lisa Palluconi, Sanctions policy priorities

REMINDER: Our client portal, WIBC calendar, and other resources are available at redflag.global/washington. Contact Alix for password.

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


YOU NEED TO KNOW

China

USTR announced December 26 the extension of existing Section 301 China tariff exclusions until May 31, 2024. USTR will open a public comment period on January 22 to request input on whether these exclusions should be further extended and has indicated this comment period will help align decisions on exclusions with the ongoing (and overdue) four-year review of the Section 301 tariffs. Media reports indicate the Biden administration plans to keep many of the existing Section 301 tariffs in place, while possibly raising tariffs on electric vehicles and critical minerals. 

Meanwhile, China announced on December 26 retaliatory sanctions targeting a U.S. data analytics firm and individual researchers over their role using open-source data to assist firms in complying with Western sanctions, export controls, and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. China also announced on January 5 an investigation into the price of EU brandy imports in a move seen as retaliation for the EU’s investigation into potential unfair trade practices and subsidization of Chinese electric car imports.

Contact: Steve Ziehm, Pat Sheehy

Congress

President Biden signed the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (HR 2670) authorizing $886.3 billion in national security spending and temporarily extending Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. 

Congressional appropriations focus now shifts to full government funding, which was temporarily extended through January 19 (Department of Transportation, Agriculture, Housing, and Veterans Affairs) and February 2 (remaining agencies). 

While House and Senate leadership are reportedly moving closer to an agreement on overall funding levels, barriers remain to reaching a resolution, including disagreements over issues like border security, nutrition programs, and assistance to Ukraine and Israel. 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has warned House and Senate congressional budget committee chairs that provisions in the June 2023 debt ceiling legislation could trigger a 9% automatic across-the-board cuts in domestic and foreign aid spending, unless new annual appropriations bills remove these provisions. 

Contact: Chris Benscher

South America

Venezuela’s Maduro regime continues to loosely follow through on commitments to fair conduct of elections later this year, preserving sanctions relief for the time being. The White House announced December 20 that the regime agreed to free ten American and 20 Venezuelan political prisoners and canceled three arrest warrants against opposition party members in return for the release of money launderer Alex Saab. Meanwhile, opposition candidate Maria Cortinaa Machado officially appealed her ban from the presidency on December 16, though she is still awaiting a response from the Supreme Court. 

While border dispute tensions between Venezuela and Guyana continued to de-escalate in advance of planned meetings in Brazil, the December 30 arrival of a British warship in Guyana prompted Venezuela to conduct military exercises and warn that the warship’s presence “violates a recent agreement between the South American nations.” 

Recently-inaugurated Argentine president Javier Milei followed through on commitments to drastically reform the country’s economy and political system during his first few weeks in office. His December 22, decree entered into effect December 29 enacting more than 300 measures that deregulate and amend rules related to customs, land ownership, food retail, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals. The decree’s labor reforms have already been partially struck-down by an Argentine court, while the rest of the measures could be overturned by the country’s legislature. 

President Milei has also presented a bill that would dramatically reform the country’s tax, penal, electoral, and party systems. 

Contact: Ethan Knecht

Quick takes

  • The United States and the European Union agreed to extend until 2025 the status quo on steel and aluminum tariffs, allowing for continued negotiations of a Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminium. The EU extended retaliation until March 2025, while the United States extended tariff rate quotas (TRQs) on EU steel and aluminum imports until December 2025.  
  • Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s January 2 year-end enforcement review highlighted the agency’s highest number of export violation convictions ever, including notable enforcement of export controls on Russia, China, as well as reforms to the handling of voluntary self-disclosures.
  • U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will travel to New Delhi January 12 to 14 for the 14th round of talks under the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum.

NOTICES, BILLS & HEARINGS

Federal Register Notices

Newly-introduced legislation

House

  • H.R.6805 (Dingell, D-MI) – Would require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to designate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980.
  • H.R.6808 (Fletcher, D-TX) – Would require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a risk-communication strategy to inform the public about the hazards or potential hazards of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
  • H.R.6834 (Stevens, D-MI) – Would direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a final rule adding as a class all perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances with at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom to the list of hazardous air pollutants under section 112(b) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7412(b)). 
  • H.R.6840 (Hill, R-AR) – Would prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury from engaging in transactions involving the exchange of Special Drawing Rights issued by the International Monetary Fund that are held by the Islamic Republic of  Iran. 
  • H.R.6846 (Waltz, R-FL) – Would require the U.S. Government to assist in the establishment of national security councils in specified countries. 
  • H.R.6865 (Lee, D-CA) – Would provide for additional sanctions and other measures relating to Iran.
  • H.R.6871, H.R.6872 (Porter, D-CA) – Would establish a grant program to demonstrate the performance and reliability of heavy-duty fuel cell vehicles that use hydrogen as a fuel source; Would establish a grant program to support hydrogen-fueled equipment at ports and explore the feasibility and safety of using hydrogen-derived fuels, including ammonia, as a shipping fuel.
  • H.R.6875 (Salazar, R-FL) – Would amend the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act to make Uruguay eligible admission into the United States as E1 and E2 nonimmigrants if nationals of the United States are treated similarly by the Government of Uruguay.
  • H.R.6886 (Higgins, R-LA) – Would direct agencies to be transparent when using automated and augmented systems to interact with the public or make critical decisions.
  • H.R.6896, H.R.6897, H.R.6902 (Slotkin, D-MI) – Would require a national security threats briefing focused on Chinese autonomous ground vehicles operating in the United States; require the Secretary of Defense to establish a pilot program to evaluate novel pharmaceutical manufacturing technologies to reduce the reliance of the Department on foreign manufacturers for active pharmaceutical ingredients and key starting materials; direct the Department of Defense to report to Congress on DOD efforts with the defense industrial base to counter certain Chinese capabilities.
  • H.R.6909 (Smith, R-NJ) – Would ensure that goods made using or containing cobalt refined in China do not enter the United States market.
  • H.R.6910 (Tenney, R-NY) – Would prohibit U.S. assistance from being made available before the implementation of conditions under the 2013 Brussels Agreement.

Senate

  • S.3512 (Blumenthal, D-CT) – Would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to strengthen requirements related to nutrient information on food labels.
  • S.3547 (Ernst, R-IA) – Would require the U.S. Government to help establish national security councils in specified countries.
  • S.Res.515 (Coons, D-DE) – A resolution condemning attacks by Iranian military proxies on the armed forces of the United States in Iraq and Syria and emphasizing the urgency of responding to and deterring such attacks.
  • S.Con.Res.24 (Cardin, D-MD) – A concurrent resolution condemning the hostilities in Sudan and standing with the people of Sudan in their calls for peace and their democratic aspirations.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings

House

Senate

WHO’S WHO

Arrivals

  • Daniel Shapiro, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy 
  • Jon Donenberg, Deputy Assistant to the President for Economic Policy
  • Jovita Neliupsiene, EU Ambassador-designate to the United States 
  • Lisa Palluconi, OFAC Deputy Director
  • Lisa Sawyer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy
  • Shannon Israel, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Chief Policy Officer and Director for International Affairs

Departures

  • Dr. Emily Blanchard, State Department Chief Economist
  • Gabriela Castillo, ITA Director for Industry Engagement

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.

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