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International Issues Update 2024/06

By February 9, 2024No Comments

ON OUR DESKS

  • Preparing submissions on China tariff exclusion extension requests
  • Creating advocacy documents for EU policy outreach
  • Tracking Mexico customs outage 
  • Advising on risks associated with Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act (UFLPA) implementation

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 13: NSC Director for China Economics Brendan Kelly, U.S.-China commercial and economic cooperation
  • February 15: Assistant USTR for Europe and the Middle East Bryant Trick, U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, steel and critical minerals negotiations
  • February 20: Ambassador of Belgium to the United States Jean-Arthur Régibeau, Belgium’s EU presidency priorities and U.S.-Belgium relations

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

Latin America

Major economic and political reforms were advanced in Mexico and Argentina this week. Mexican President Lopez Obrador proposed on February 5 roughly 20 constitutional reforms that touched on a wide range of issues, including: providing universal healthcare, banning fracking and open pit mining, eliminating autonomous regulatory authorities, and increasing the minimum wage. The proposed changes come eight months before the end of AMLO’s presidential term, with national elections taking place on June 2. In Argentina, President Milei’s proposed economic reforms faced a setback after Congress referred the legislative package back to committee. Milei’s coalition issued a strong statement castigating the opposition, leading some to question whether the administration will make the compromises required for the bill’s passage.

NSC Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer and Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere Juan González traveled to Colombia and Guyana from February 4-5, where they met with each country’s respective president. In Colombia, the two sides issued a joint communique where they agreed to work “together with all parties to fulfill the agreed electoral roadmap” in Venezuela and reiterated their “commitment to strengthen regional competitiveness and increase investment through the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity.” In Guyana, the U.S. officials reaffirmed commitment to Guyana territorial integrity, which comes as Venezuela’s defense minister vowed to respond with force if new oil exploration starts in the disputed Essequibo region.

On February 4, Nayib Bukele was reelected as El Salvador’s president for a controversial second term, while his political party gained nearly all the seats in the legislature. The U.S. State Department congratulated President-elect Bukele and reiterated joint cooperation on good governance, inclusive economic prosperity, and human rights. However, State did not address widespread concerns about the state of the country’s democracy. 

Contact: Ethan Knecht

Congress

Following the failure of a bipartisan border and foreign aid legislative package in the Senate this week, the Senate will attempt to pass a $95.3 billion supplemental funding package (S.815) that would send military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The Senate voted on February 8 to end debate on the foreign aid by a vote of 67-32.  Most of the proposal’s funding – about $60 billion – is intended to help Ukraine while $14.1 billion of the package is for Israel. The package also contains provisions targeting illicit trade in fentanyl.  House Republican leadership, not supportive of Ukraine funding, may hold multiple votes next week on different portions of the legislation if the Senate approves it.

The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party announced February 8 the results of an investigation into five U.S. venture capital (VC) firms, linking currently sanctioned PRC entities to $3 billion in funding they received from U.S. VCs firms prior to the imposition of sanctions.  The report calls for robust outbound investment restrictions on China in key strategic sectors, calling them “a national security and human rights imperative.”

Other legislative developments this week include: 

  • The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with around 80 amendments attached during the markup. 
  • The House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee held a hearing on the WTO’s upcoming 13th Ministerial Conference, with Chairman Adrian Smith (R-NE) highlighting concerns about a potential expiration of the WTO moratorium on e-commerce duties and expansion of COVID-19-related intellectual property waivers to diagnostics and therapeutics.
  • The House Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Technical, Industrial, and Governmental Engagement for Readiness (TIGER) Task Force released a report identifying legislative improvements to speed up the FMS approval process to more easily supply America’s allies and partners such as Taiwan, Israel, and Ukraine.

Contact: Chris Benscher, Pat Sheehy

Quick takes

  • U.S. trade data released this week showed the U.S. trade deficit fell by almost 19% in 2023, to $773.4 billion, with Mexico replacing China as the United States’ largest bilateral trading partner.  
  • Responding to farmer protests, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on February 6 announced her intention to withdraw a proposal to reduce pesticide use in the European Union.
  • Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Jay Shambaugh led a U.S. delegation to China from February 5 to 6 “to have frank conversations about China’s trade tactics” and  industrial policy practices as part of the third meeting of a bilateral Economic Working Group (EWG).  Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is scheduled to visit China again later this year.
  • The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) on February 8 announced new Russia-related sanctions, targeting violations of the Oil Price Cap Coalition and implementing G7 sanctions on Russian diamonds.
  • The OECD issued its Interim Economic Outlook report, projecting global GDP growth of 2.9% in 2024 and 3.0% in 2025, with Asia expected to account for the bulk of global growth.

NOTICES, BILLS & HEARINGS

Federal Register Notices

Newly-introduced legislation

House

  • H.R.7217 (Calvert, R-CA) – Would make emergency supplemental appropriations to respond to the attacks in Israel for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2024.
  • H.R.7256 (James, R-MI) – Would require a full review of the bilateral relationship between the United States and South Africa.
  • H.R.7271 (Biggs, R-AZ) -Would make emergency supplemental appropriations to respond to the attacks in Israel for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2024.
  • H.R.7287 (Jackson, R-TX) – Would require a report on the Taliban relationships with China and Russia.
  • H.R.7288 (Lawler, R-NY) – Would repeal Freedom Support Act section 907 waiver authority with respect to assistance to Azerbaijan.
  • H.Con.Res.90 (Williams, R-NY) – Condemns the Biden administration for its ban on the issuance of liquefied natural gas export permits.

Senate

  • S.3783 (Cramer, R-ND) – Would require the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to respond to the Governor of a State who requests a determination with respect to whether a transaction would trigger a review by the Committee.
  • S.J.Res.60 (Paul, R-KY) – Provides for congressional disapproval of the proposed foreign military sale to the Government of Turkiye of certain defense articles and services.
  • S.Res.547 (Shaheen, D-NH) – Acknowledges the two-year anniversary of Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine and expresses support for the people of Ukraine.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings

House

WHO’S WHO

Arrivals

  • Elizabeth Kelly, NIST AI Safety Institute Director 
  • Kevin Gallagher, Senior Adviser to Commerce Secretary 
  • Kurt Campbell, Deputy Secretary of State
  • Stephanie Psaki, NSC Global Health Security Coordinator

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.