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International Issues Update 2024/03

By January 19, 2024No Comments

ON OUR DESKS

  • Advising on EU and U.S. approaches to regulating artificial intelligence
  • Preparing client comments on extension of China tariff exclusions
  • Reporting on the impact of U.S.-China competition in southeast Asia
  • Tracking European parliamentary election landscape and developments

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:

  • Jan 23: Assistant USTR for WTO and Multilateral Affairs Andrea Durkin, WTO MC13 priorities
  • Jan 25: Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Asia Pamela Phan, U.S. commercial engagement in East Asia

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

European elections

With European parliamentary elections approaching in June, reporting and analysis is ramping up. Among other recent developments, a leaked draft election manifesto for the European People’s Party (EPP) – currently projected to win the most seats in Parliament – covers a wide range of policy areas, including environment, agriculture, health, artificial intelligence, and others. The leaked draft is dated January 12 and is expected to be approved at the EPP political assembly January 29-30.

The draft puts less emphasis on environmental protection than the party’s 2019 manifesto, supporting further development of the Green Deal while asserting that sustainability must coexist with economic competitiveness. On agriculture, the draft includes emphasis on the importance of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2028-2034 and the need to ensure sufficient income for farmers. It opposes bans and excessive regulations, particularly referencing provisions in the Sustainable Use of Pesticide regulation (SUR).

In the area of health, the EPP supports the European Health Union and the full implementation of the Beating Cancer Plan. The EPP highlights the potential of big data and AI in health and proposes launching European action plans to address Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cardiovascular health, and mental health.

Clients interested in further reporting on the European election landscape and developments should contact Melissa San Miguel.

China, Taiwan

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Vice President Lai Ching-te was elected on January 13 as Taiwan’s next president, but discontent with domestic policy cost the DPP its legislative majority. Though Beijing openly preferred the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party to win, China has thus far refrained from serious military or economic actions in response to the election results, but it may test President-elect Lai with escalations following his May inauguration.

 Despite not having official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the United States and global partners including the European Union, Japan, and the Philippines congratulated Lai on his election, prompting a series of rebukes from Beijing. President Biden sent a bipartisan delegation to reaffirm Washington’s “rock solid” commitment to Taiwan, while Congressional delegations led by Ami Bera (D-CA) and CCP Committee Chair Mike Gallagher (R-WI) are also likely to arrive in Taiwan in the coming weeks. Secretary of State Blinken similarly praised Taiwan’s democracy and criticized China’s response to the elections at Davos.

Also speaking at Davos on January 16, Chinese Premier Li Qiang focused on China’s domestic economy, calling for greater international economic and technological cooperation. He also attempted to woo new foreign investments in the Chinese markets, saying China will “embrace investments from businesses of all countries with open arms and will work tirelessly to foster a market-oriented, law-based and world-class business environment.” The speech comes as China claimed its economy grew slightly above target at 5.2% in 2023, although many analysts suspect true GDP growth was substantially lower.

The third meeting of the U.S.-China Financial Working Group (FWG), established in 2023, took place January 18-19 in Beijing (the first FWG meeting to occur in China). In a readout, Treasury said discussions focused on “financial stability and capital markets issues, international financial institutions, sustainable finance, cross-border payments and data, and anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. U.S. officials also frankly raised areas of disagreement during the conversations.”

Contact: Ethan Knecht, Pat Sheehy

Congress

The House and Senate each approved short-term government funding (HR 2872). The legislation, signed into law by President Biden, funds the Departments of Transportation, Energy, Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Veterans Affairs and military construction through March 1, with funding for remaining agencies continuing through March 8. 

Other relevant legislative updates include: 

  • The House passed legislation (HR 5862) authorizing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to consolidate roles and add certain functions including a global trade specialist, intended to improve trade law enforcement and facilitate legitimate trade. 
  • House Digital Trade Caucus co-chair Darin LaHood (R-IL) reintroduced a bill that would allow the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to revoke Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits for countries with barriers to digital trade. Congressman LaHood and 29 other House members also wrote to USTR urging the administration to prioritize renewal of the Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions at the thirteenth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) February 26-29 in Abu Dhabi. 
  • The House Ways and Means Committee voted 40 to 3 to advance a $78 billion tax package to revive a trio of business tax incentives and expand the child tax credit. 
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee approved the Providing Reliable, Objective, Verifiable Emissions Intensity and Transparency (PROVE IT) Act to prepare for expected impacts from the EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. The bill would require the Department of Energy to conduct a study within two years focused on the greenhouse gas emission intensity from the manufacture of covered products, comparing practices in the United States with other countries. 

Contact: Chris Benscher

Quick takes

  • Multiple Department of Justice senior officials publicly signaled significant possible changes to Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requirements impacting multinational corporations. Draft rules expected in the spring could narrow current commercial exemptions and require FARA disclosures for a broad range of common business activities conducted by foreign headquartered firms.
  • Mexican President Manuel Lopez Obrador announced his intent to propose constitutional reforms in February that would eliminate Mexico’s independent regulators for telecommunications, energy, electoral, and judicial issues.
  • Saudi Arabia and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) agreed a memorandum of understanding to deepen cooperation and explore Saudi Arabia’s potential alignment with relevant OECD standards and best practices focused on trade facilitation, corporate governance and finance, investment policy, anti-corruption, public governance and regulatory policy, and education.
  • The 14th ministerial-level meeting of the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) resulted in a joint statement outlining intent to pursue enhanced cooperation on critical minerals, customs and trade facilitation, supply chains, and trade in high tech products.  
  • Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo is expected to discuss sanctions against Russia during travel to Rome, Berlin, Frankfurt, and Tokyo, including potential targeting of financial institutions conducting “significant” transactions with Russia’s military-industrial complex and enforcement of the G7 price cap on Russian-origin oil.

NOTICES, BILLS & HEARINGS

Federal Register Notices

Newly-introduced legislation

House

  • H.R.6996 (Golden, D-ME) – Would require broadcasting stations, providers of cable and satellite television, and online platforms to ensure that political advertisements are not purchased by a foreign national.
  • H.R.7034 (Carey, R-OH) – Would designate Mauritania under section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to permit nationals of Mauritania to be eligible for temporary protected status.
  • H.R.7041 (Lee, D-CA) – Would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to impose a corporate tax rate increase on companies whose ratio of compensation of the CEO or other highest paid employee to median worker compensation is more than 50 to 1.
  • H.R.7047 (Perry, R-PA) – Would prohibit funding for the World Economic Forum.
  • H.R.7053 (Thompson, R-PA) – Would amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to address measuring methane emissions.
  • H.R.7054 (Tonko, D-NY) – Would require the Secretary of Energy to remove carbon dioxide directly from ambient air or seawater.

Senate

  • S.3590 (Scott, R-FL) – Would prohibit imported garlic from China.
  • S.3603 (Hagerty, R-TN) – Would establish an information-sharing pilot program to combat the illicit use of crypto assets.
  • S.3615 (Coons, D-DE) – Would require the Secretary of Energy to remove carbon dioxide directly from ambient air or seawater.
  • S.3618 (Brown, D-OH) – Would designate Mauritania under section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to permit nationals of Mauritania to be eligible for temporary protected status.
  • S.3620 (Sanders, I-VT) – Would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to impose a corporate tax rate increase on companies whose ratio of compensation of the CEO or other highest paid employee to median worker compensation is more than 50 to 1.
  • S.3623 (Merkley, D-OR) – Would amend the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 to include as a high-priority research and extension area research on microplastics in land-applied biosolids on farmland.
  • S.3631 (Cornyn, R-TX) – Would require reports on critical mineral and rare earth element resources around the world and a strategy for the development of advanced mining, refining, separation, and processing technologies.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings

House

Senate

WHO’S WHO

Arrivals

  • Jamila Thompson, Acting USTR Chief of Staff
  • Sarah Jane Glynn, Labor Department Chief Economist
  • Rose Marie Laughlin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Legislative Affairs
  • Vernon Baker, Senior Policy Adviser to the House Minority Leader for Tax and Trade

Departures

  • Heather Hurlburt, USTR Chief of Staff
  • Mike Pyle, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics
  • Rick Van Buren, Minority Senior Health Counsel for the House Commerce Committee

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.