ON OUR DESKS
- Preparing client submissions for USTR review of Section 301 China tariffs
- Analyzing lameduck agenda and new Congress’ impact on client priorities
- Advising on U.S. visa landscape and procedures for business travel
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:
- November 28: Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Matthew Borman, export controls – priorities and the road ahead
Up next: Register for upcoming WIBC discussions here
- December 15: Ambassador of Australia Arthur Sinodinos, U.S.-Australia cooperation on political and economic issues (please note this will be the last WIBC discussion of 2022)
WIBC discussions are open to WIBC members only. Not a member? Contact Christina for membership inquiries.
YOU NEED TO KNOW
During a state visit to Washington November 29-December 2, French President Emmanuel Macron pressed Europe’s significant concerns over electric vehicle tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act, which he repeatedly described as “super aggressive” toward European automotive industry companies. during a state visit to Washington.
During a December 1 joint press conference, President Biden referred to “glitches” in the law’s drafting, saying it was not intended to exclude allies and that “tweaks” can be made to “make it easier for European countries to participate…” France’s finance minister hailed Biden’s remarks as “a major breakthrough.” The issue is also likely to be raised during the December 5 meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC), to be held in College Park.
Presidents Macron and Biden also reaffirmed support for Ukraine. Asked if he would be speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Biden said he has no immediate plans to contact Putin but would be “prepared to speak” if Putin were “looking for a way to end the war.”
Contact: Steve Ziehm
With little time remaining before the new Congress is sworn in on January 3, priorities in the lame duck session of the current Congress include must-pass government funding and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Without new authorization or a continuing resolution, government funding will lapse December 16. Some Congressional Republicans are pushing for an extension into early 2023, when their party will take control of the House.
Congress also continues to debate defense spending provisions aimed at barring federal contractors from using (or partnering with companies who use) Chinese-made semiconductors (in the Senate version of the bill) and sourcing from any company doing business in Russia (House amendment 304). Conference negotiators are expected to conclude a final version of the bill over the coming week.
In other Congressional news, the Senate voted December 1 (following passage in the House) to impose a labor agreement averting a potential major rail strike. Other items on the lameduck agenda include same-sex marriage and measures impacting Congress’ electoral count. Impactful pending legislation for business includes green card access for legal immigrants and long-stalled trade measures. Prospects for full passage of bills outside must-pass spending are slim.
Contact: Chris Benscher
In the midst of unusually widespread and high-profile public protests, China issued new vaccination targets, eased lockdowns, loosened quarantine policies, and attempted to downplay the severity of the omicron strain this week. While far from indicating any immediate shift in China’s zero COVID policy, these moves may signal some softening.
Senior U.S. officials continued to emphasize the United States’ stance on bolstering U.S. competitiveness and balancing China, particularly in computing technologies , biotechnologies and biomanufacturing, and clean energy as laid out in a November 30 speech by Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. Raimondo also highlighted increased scrutiny of U.S. investment in China as a major priority. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on November 30 warned that business should prepare for increased geopolitical risks arising out of competition with China, despite her hope that the United States and China will maintain strong ties “when it comes to mutually beneficial trade and investment.”
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan expressed confidence this week that allies will adopt measures similar to U.S. controls on Chinese semiconductors. The Commerce Department is accepting until January 17 public comments on export controls cooperation with Japan and may increase consultations with allies over the coming year, including with Korea and Japan. Commerce Senior Advisor for China Elizabeth Economy noted during November 29 remarks at the Wilson Center that South Korean officials have expressed frustration over a lack of consultation and advance warning on U.S. export controls.
Contact: Ethan Knecht, Pat Sheehy
Negotiations between the Venezuelan opposition and the Maduro regime restarted this week in Mexico, with the two sides agreeing to a “social accord” on education, health, food security, flood response and electricity programs. Discussions continue on ensuring the 2024 elections are free and fair.
In response, the U.S. government issued a limited license to Chevron to resume oil drilling in Venezuela. The license does not authorize payment of taxes or royalties to the Government of Venezuela. President Maduro called for the United States to fully lift all sanctions on the oil sector.
Visiting Mexico City this week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai raised major trade issues and irritants, including Mexico’s pending ban on genetically-modified corn, as well as labor, energy, and environment. Mexico proposed a working group to resolve energy issues before the North American Leaders Summit scheduled for early January.
Other significant recent trade actions in Latin America included Uruguay applying to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and Ecuador exploring a free trade agreement with Canada.
Contact: Ethan Knecht, Pat Sheehy
- Democrats in the House unanimously elected Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) as leader to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the 118th Congress. The caucus also elected Representative Katherine Clark as Democratic Whip, Pete Aquilar as Democratic Caucus Chair, and James Clyburn to the new position of Democratic Assistant Leader (4th ranked position).
- Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA), expected to be elected Majority Whip, released the 2023 House calendar.
- The European Commission released new proposed mandatory targets for recycled content in plastic packaging and voluntary use of reusable packaging. The proposal calls for all packaging on the EU market to be recyclable by 2030.
- The United States announced new global health security partnerships with Ghana, Guatemala, Mozambique, the Philippines, Zambia, and Ukraine. The administration also released a report on Progress and Impact of U.S. Government Investments in Global Health Security and called for Congress to increase funding for the World Bank Pandemic Fund and global health security partnerships.
- The EU and G7 will ban beginning December 5 seaborne imports of Russian crude oil and impose a host of other new limitations on Europeans shipping Russian oil worldwide unless sold at or below a price cap, reportedly $60 a barrel. The G7 countries will impose their own price cap, as well.
NOTICES, BILLS & HEARINGS
Federal Register Notices
- Commerce/ITA, Antidumping or countervailing duty administrative review, December 1
- Treasury/OFAC, Russia sanctions designations, November 28
- USTR, China’s acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation, November 29
- H.R.9385 (Gallagher, R-WI) Restricts tax-exempt entities from investing in Chinese companies.
- H.R.9395 (Pocan, D-WI) Requires new foreign agricultural investors disclosures.
- H.R.9374 (Meeks, D-NY) Requires the State Department to issue a strategic plan to counter Russian influence in Africa, Latin America, Middle East, and other regions as appropriate.
- H.R.9364 (Bass, D-CA) Would promote the African Continental Free Trade Area.
- H.J.Res.100 (Payne, D-NJ) Provides a resolution to the railroad disputes.
- S.5178 (Hawley, R-MO) Restricts tax-exempt entities from investing in Chinese companies.
- S.5161 (Menendez, D-NJ) Would exempt international goods already in transit from surprise tariffs.
- S.5154 (Van Hollen, D-MD) Would promote the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Upcoming Congressional hearings
- Foreign Affairs: Confronting Yemen’s humanitarian and political crisis, December 6, 10:00 am
- Climate Crisis: Need for continued climate action, December 6, 1:30 pm.
- Foreign Affairs: Consider bill to enhance U.S. relations with ASEAN, December 6, 2:00 pm.
- Agriculture: Farm Bill 2023 Research Programs, December 6, 10:00 am.
- Foreign Relations: Consider State Department nominees for Ambassadors to Kuwait, Nigeria and Niger as well as consider foreign relations bills including those covering North Korea, Ukraine, Syria, and Black Sea, December 7, 10:00 am.
- Abby Finkenauer, State Department Special Envoy for Global Youth Issues
- Jody Myers, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation Chief Risk Officer
- Rheanne Wirkkala, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs
- David Lipton, Counselor to the Treasury Secretary for International Affairs
- John Morton, Counselor to the Treasury Secretary for Climate
- Sameera Fazili, National Economic Council Deputy Director
- Peter Harrell, NSC Senior Director for International Economics
Want more scoops on personnel moves? Find the most recent Who’s Who here.
- Mercosur leaders summit (Montevideo, Uruguay), December 5-6
- U.S-EU Trade and Technology Council (Washington), December 5
- Eurogroup Ministers (Brussels), December 5
- Mercosur Leaders Summit (Montevideo), December 5-6
- EU Transport, Telecom, and Energy Council (Brussels), December 5-6
- APEC Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting (ISOM) (Honolulu), December 5-7
- FAO Council (Rome), 5-9
- EU Western Balkans Summit (Tirana), December 6
- ILO Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting (Singapore), December 6-9
- EU Committee of Permanent Representatives (Brussels), December 7
- UN Environment Programme Committee of Permanent Reps (Nairobi), December 8
Looking farther ahead? Find the most recent full international events calendar here.