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 Volume 24, Number 18                                                                                                                          Monday, January 26, 2015

Trade Reports International Group


‘Ambition’

   Geneva – Trade ministers meeting informally on the margins of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on Saturday vowed to conclude the Doha Development Agenda negotiations based on “re-calibration” of the level of ambition and what is doable within the next eleven months, WTD has learned (WTD, 1/23/15).

 The ministers drawn from industrialized and developing countries agreed to intensify negotiations in all areas to finalize the precise modalities in agriculture, industrial goods and services by the end of July with an aim to wrap up a final agreement on December 15 at the World Trade Organization’s tenth ministerial conference in Nairobi.

 “We concurred that by July a detailed work program will have to be defined, setting out a credible and realistic path towards a conclusion of the Doha Development Round,” Switzerland’s economic affairs minister Johann N. Schneider-Ammann told reporters.  Switzerland hosted the informal session.

 At the closed-door meeting – which lasted for three hours – the Swiss minister told his counterparts to “be clear on what to achieve, what is realistic and acceptable and what we are ready to give.  ....  Without giving, there will be no taking,” Mr. Schneider-Amman said, according to a participant who took part in the meeting.

 In his initial intervention, WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo set out some priorities – a permanent solution to the food security stockholding initiative, ratification by members to implement last year’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and finalization of a work program by July with precise modalities.  He also said he wants agreement on the expansion of the Information and Technology Agreement along with an Environmental Goods Agreement.

Expedited Engagement and Interaction

 The Director General said negotiations on all can be concluded with expedited engagement and interaction.  He underscored the need to strive towards a “credible” outcome on what is doable and achievable without overly reducing the level of ambition.   The “level of ambition will be interlinked” – suggesting that it cannot be “higher” in one area and lower in another.

 A day before the informal ministerial, ministers from the United States, the European Union, New Zealand and South Africa along with the Director General met over dinner during which they agreed to conclude the Doha round based on a low level of ambition, according people familiar with the meeting.

 “This is the best meeting I attended in the recent past,” Kenya foreign minister Amina Mohamed told WTD, referring to the Saturday informal ministerial.  She said there now is a clear agreement on what needs to be achieved by December.  “We should conclude the Doha round by December so that there will be an opening for new areas to ensure the negotiating function of the WTO.”

 In his concluding remarks, WTO Director General Azevêdo expressed doubts about an ambitious outcome in all aspects of the Doha negotiations.  “Let’s not fool ourselves,” he said, “it will be very, very difficult,” according to participants familiar with the meeting.

 The Director General called for “trust” during the intense phase of negotiations along with the engagement of big players.

 Trade ministers from the United States, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, China, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Australia, Russia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Turkey and Thailand attended the informal session.

 US Trade Representative Michael Froman made a brief statement calling for a “honest and frank discussion” because of the changed “context” since the launch of the Doha Round in 2001.   He left early to meet up with President Obama who is making a visit to India.  The USTR spoke about the need to “re-calibrate” the agenda so as to secure an agreement in short order.  Agreement on Doha is not the end of global liberalization but just one phase, Mr. Froman told his colleagues.

 European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström called for “parallelism” in the movement of all issues in the Doha agenda, but she admitted to the importance of agriculture.  The meeting called for speedy ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement and quick agreement on an expanded Information and Technology Agreement.  Brussels also wants to see a successful conclusion to the Environmental Goods Agreement.

 Japan pressed for discussing antidumping disciplines as well as successful outcomes in the Information Technology Agreement and environmental goods.  Tokyo also pushed for a satisfactory conclusion to the trade in services agreement prior to the Nairobi ministerial.

 Mexico called for rapid movement in the Doha services negotiations with special emphasis on labor-intensive services.  Mexican Minister Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal cautioned against resuming the negotiations with the revised draft 2008 modalities in agriculture and industrial goods as a basis for drawing up the work program.

Other Statements

 Other positions expressed over the weekend included –

 ●        Canada – re-calibration of the Doha negotiations without settling for the lowest denominator in the overall level of ambition.  Canadian trade minister Ed Fast said if ambition is too low, then members will seek other vehicles to promote trade liberalization;

 ●        New Zealand – Trade Minister Tim Groser said higher levels of ambition is not possible.  He suggested that members need a political understanding on re-calibration which will result in a lower level of ambition to conclude the negotiations on time;

 ●        Brazil – Vice Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs in the foreign ministry Eni Corder issued the strongest message yet in warning that there cannot be a partial harvesting nor a piecemeal approach.   Agriculture for Brazil “will be the determining factor.”  Brazil called for “sequencing” in agriculture, industrial goods, and services.  Brasilia will “calibrate” the outcomes in other areas only after assessing the outcome in agriculture.  He said members cannot declare the 2008 revised modalities dead;

 ●        Costa Rica called for liberalization of tropical products along with investment and competition policy;

 ●        Norway said members must focus on what is doable with a lower level of ambition.  Norwegian minister Borge Brende said all countries will have to contribute to achieve a credible outcome.  He noted the importance of rules and antidumping issues.

 ●        Colombia said members must identify the priorities and indicate what they want and how they will contribute.

 ●        South Korean deputy trade minister Kyong-lim Cho said “do-ability is a function of ambition,” suggesting that even a modest outcome can offer significant benefits if it is multilateralized.  The minister called for inclusion of the “special products” provision which is stabilized in the revised draft modalities.

China

 ●        China backed Korea in calling for a permanent solution to food security by the next ministerial conference.  Chinese assistant trade minister Shouwen Wang called for full implementation of the Bali package, particularly the services waiver for least-developed countries and “cotton.”  It pressed for detailed modalities in all three pillars of agriculture, development and rules.

 Beijing wants a meeting of senior trade officials in April to discuss the negotiating texts.

 ●        South Africa – trade minister Rob Davies called for all members to deliver on the Bali decisions, particularly on development issues.  While ensuring the developmental dimension of the final outcome, members must focus on what is do-able based on a “frank discussion of red lines and sensitivities.”

 ●        Turkey called for a permanent solution for food security.

 ●        Indonesia, which is the coordinator for the Group-of-33 farm coalition, said the 2008 revised draft agriculture modalities must be the basis for negotiations.  Trade minister Rachmat Gobel demanded a clear outcome on “special products” and the “special safeguard” mechanism.

  ●        Russia said agriculture is at the core for concluding the Doha Round.  It called for more discussions on competition and domestic support.

 ●        Egypt demanded a review of the “green box” disciplines in agriculture and sharp reduction in the farm domestic subsidies.

       



US Implements TFA

 US Trade Representative Michael Froman formally delivered the US letter of acceptance of last year’s World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement to WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo on Saturday in Davos (WTD, 1/19/15).

 The delivery of the letter is the final step that the United States must take toward the entry into force of the agreement that promises to improve trade efficiency, according to a statement by the US Trade Representative’s office.

 The United States is the third WTO member to follow through with its letter of acceptance.  Singapore and Hong Kong also have submitted letters.

 Ambassador Froman noted the importance of working towards timely entry into force of the agreement and moving quickly so that its benefits can begin to flow.  “The Agreement will unlock immense commercial opportunities for all developing and developed countries alike,” the USTR stated.  “We all want to start enjoying the benefits and we hope other members will take this crucial next step as soon as possible.”

 The agreement contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit.

 Mr. Froman continued – “We are working with developing countries to help support effective implementation of this agreement.  In fact, we are already considering how to best support countries who are committed to implementation – teaming up with other governments and the private sector.”

 The Trade Facilitation Agreement will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO’s 160 members complete their domestic legal procedures and submit instruments of acceptance to the WTO.

       



Congressional Pressure on Iran Talks

 Congressional lawmakers take the first step this week toward ratcheting up existing US sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program despite repeated demands from President Obama to hold off on legislation while international talks continue (WTD, 1/20/15).

 The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday is slated to mark up draft legislation that would escalate sanctions if Tehran fails to agree to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.  The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015 is being drafted by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who is ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

 Tomorrow, both Senate Banking and the House Foreign Affairs Committees will hold hearings on Iran sanctions.  Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif) previously sponsored Iran sanctions legislation that passed the House in 2013.

Congress Must Have a Role

 Separately, key members of the Senate Foreign Relations made clear last Wednesday that they want Congress to have a say in any nuclear deal reached with Iran.  Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn) insisted that the Senate should vote on the agreement – if reached – just as the body would on any other civilian nuclear agreement.  At a committee hearing, he called it “totally unacceptable” that the Senate would not have the right to approve any agreement reached.

 Both Sen. Corker and ranking Democrat Sen. Menendez were skeptical that the Administration will be able to reach an agreement with Tehran.  In an almost three-hour hearing, only California Democrat Barbara Boxer sided with the Administration that Congress should hold off on sanctions legislation so negotiations can proceed smoothly.

 Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken reiterated the President’s position that Congressional action on sanctions would drive Tehran away from the long-standing negotiations.  He also expressed the Administration’s opposition to the Senate voting on a final agreement, saying it would set a precedent for future executive branch action.

       



Ex-Im Bank and the China Bugaboo

 Despite ongoing efforts to discuss export financing guidelines with China, that country remains the biggest export competitor for the US Export-Import Bank, said Bank President Fred Hochberg on Friday (WTD, 1/16/15).

 China in late 2013 agreed to have bilateral discussions on export financing.  Washington wants export lending terms to be more in line with disciplines adopted by two dozen other financing nations in the Organization of Economic and Cooperation and Trade.  Those talks, Mr. Hochberg told WTD, have made progress – especially during the last six months.  There is a scheduled meeting between the two sides next month.  It typically meets three or four times a year.

 The United States continues to match Chinese financing terms in important markets, the Bank President told a session sponsored by the National Conference of Mayors.

 For the last two years China has granted $670 billion in export financing.  That, Mr. Hochberg said, compares to $590 billion offered in the Bank’s 80-year history.

Rewarding the Customer

 But talking to the export forum, the Ex-Im Bank chief said Beijing continues to offer financing terms in line with what the recipient wants.  In South Africa recently, Mr. Hochberg asked government officials what terms China’s Export-Import Bank is offering.  The reply he got was – “whatever we want.”

 Mr. Hochberg noted President Obama’s emphasis on the importance of exports during his most recent State of the Union Address.

 Ex-Im’s financing is up steeply.  In 2013 Bank financing amounted to $36 billion; it is up to $20 bill so far this fiscal year.

 The Ex-Im Bank President is expected to face a fight in Congress again this year in getting long-term reauthorization approved from Congress before its charter lapses at the end of June.  Should the Bank’s activities lapse, he told the mayors, China will be the first to step in and fill the vacuum – much to the detriment of US exporters.

 The mayors’ group is circulating a letter to Congress to support Bank reauthorization.

       



Natural Gas Exports

 The House this week is expected to take up legislation (HR 351) that would expedite the time-line for the Energy Department to authorize exports of liquified natural gas, while the Senate continues work on a bill (S 1) authorizing construction of the Keystone pipeline, which also includes an amendment to allow LNG exports to most countries (WTD, 1/21/15).

 Pending to the Keystone bill also is an amendment to repeal the Jones Act requiring the use of US vessels for goods shipped between US ports.

 The Senate last week rejected amendments that would have required the use of US iron, steel and manufactured goods in construction of the Keystone pipeline and ban the export of pipeline oil.

 Meanwhile, the Senate Banking Committee plans to mark up draft legislation that would ratchet up sanctions on Iran if it fails to dismantle its nuclear program (see related report this issue).



 Following is the legislative calendar for the new 114th Congress –




Legislation House Senate Final

 

AGOA.  Legislation to extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act (WTD, 1/23/15).

    

Buy America.  Legislation to ensure that US transportation projects use US steel (WTD, 10/31/14).

    

Cuba Sanctions.  Legislation (HR 274) to lift the US trade embargo on Cuba (WTD, 1/23/15).

 Introduced January 12, 2015.

   

Currency.  Legislation to address manipulation of a country’s currency (WTD, 2/23/15).

    

Customs Reform.  Legislation to reauthorize and reform US Customs and Border Protection programs (WTD, 7/29/14).

    

Energy.  Legislation (HR 156) to repeal the US crude oil export ban.

 Introduced January 6, 2015.   

Energy.  Legislation (HR 351) to expedite the export of natural gas.

 Scheduled for House consideration this week.

   

Export Administration Act.   Legislation to rewrite US export control regulations (WTD, 12/31/14).

    

Export-Import Bank.  Legislation to reauthorize the US Export-Import Bank (see related report this issue).

    

FCPA.  Legislation (HR 261) to strengthen the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

 Introduced January 9, 2015.   

GSP.  Legislation to extend the US Generalized System of Preferences program (WTD, 12/12/14)

    

Imports.  Legislation to strengthen enforcement of US import trade laws (WTD, 7/19/12).

    

Iran Sanctions.  Legislation to expand sanctions against Iran (see related report this issue).

 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing scheduled for January 27.

 Senate Banking Committee hearing scheduled for January 27.

  

Korea (North).  Legislation (HR 204) to impose sanctions on North Korea (WTD, 1/6/15).

 Introduced January 8, 2015.   

MTB.  Legislation to revise tariffs on certain industrial goods (WTD, 4/24/14).

 

   

OPIC Reauthorization.  Legislation to reauthorize the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (WTD, 12/15/14).

    

Syria Sanctions.  Legislation to expand sanctions against Syria (WTD, 5/23/13).

    

Trade Adjustment Assistance. Legislation to extend Trade Adjustment Assistance programs WTD, 4/4/14).

    

Trade Promotion Authority.  Legislation to renew special Presidential trade negotiating authority (WTD, 1/23/15).

    

TransPacific Partnership.  Legislation to implement the TransPacific Partnership trade agreement (see related report this issue).

    



       





Around the Globe

             ● Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled a plan centered on insurance on Sunday that they hope will convince U.S. companies to build nuclear power stations in India, but stopped short of demands to soften a liability law, Reuters news service reported (WTD, 1/21/15).  With the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy still fresh in India’s mind, parliament five years ago passed a law that makes equipment suppliers ultimately responsible for an accident, a deviation from international norms that the companies found hard to swallow.

 India’s top diplomat, foreign secretary Sujatha Singh, said the new plan was squarely within our law.  We have reached an understanding, the deal is done,” she said at a media briefing.  Details of the new plan were sketchy, but Indian and U.S. diplomats said the idea was to transfer the financial risk to insurers in case of an accident.  “The India nuclear insurance pool is a risk transfer mechanism which is being formed by GIC Re and four other public sector undertakings in the general insurance business in India,” foreign ministry joint secretary Amandeep Singh said.

 After India and Washington first reached a nuclear deal in 2006, nuclear commerce worth billions of dollars was meant to be the centrepiece of a new strategic relationship, allowing New Delhi access to nuclear technology and fuel without giving up its weapons programme. But the liability issue blocked progress.  GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy said it would review the governmental agreement in due course.

 Both GE and Westinghouse have already been given land in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh to begin construction of reactors.  Foreign secretary Singh said there was a bilateral understanding that India’s law was compatible with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation. India has yet to ratify the convention.  It is also likely that India will need a similar deal with Japan since many of the reactor components used by the joint U.S.-Japanese companies come from there.

 On Sunday, Richard Verma, the U.S. ambassador in New Delhi, said the new plan was based on a memorandum of law and would not require new legislation at this stage.  Until recently, U.S. officials have said that the best solution would be to change the liability law.  That is deemed politically impossible by the Indian government, in a country that suffered thousands of deaths when U.S. company Union Carbide Corp’s pesticide factory leaked gas in 1984. Activists are still seeking financial compensation and a clean-up of the site by parent Dow Chemical Co.

 The show of solidarity Sunday came against the backdrop of an increasingly assertive and well-armed China that has altered the balance of power in Asia said a report by the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Obama called the two countries “natural partners,” saying that Mr. Modi’s personal commitment to the relationship has provided an opportunity to energize efforts on a range of fronts.  The president also said they had agreed on steps to promote clean energy and to tackle climate change. The U.S. will share more data and help India assess and adapt to climate change, Mr. Obama said, and the two countries will pursue a global climate agreement at a major summit later this year.

 John Podesta, counselor to the president, said Messrs. Obama and Modi agreed to open a “leader channel” as they pursue a global agreement, comparing it to the “open line” that the U.S. president has with China’s President Xi Jinping . Mr. Modi also pledged to move ahead with efforts to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, Mr. Podesta said.

 TNN reported that India and the US have agreed on a “broad framework” for resolving transfer pricing disputes involving America companies, paving the way for increasing business ties between the two countries.  Sources said the two sides reached the agreement after several rounds of negotiations about a “10 days ago.” The pact also includes the promise to adhere to bilateral advance pricing arrangements (APAs) which would help US firms determine their tax liability in advance and create certainty on tax issues.

             ●          Japan has offered to import more rice from the United States in a compromise aimed at pushing forward the Asia-Pacific regional trade talks, the Nikkei reported on Sunday Reuters news service reported (WTD, 1/23/15).  A stand-off between the United States and Japan over access to farm and auto markets has been holding up negotiations over the 12-nation trade pact, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

 The Nikkei business daily, citing unidentified sources, said Japan was offering to increase its tariff-free quota for imported rice and import some “tens of thousands” of tonnes of additional rice from the United States. It plans to maintain existing rice tariffs, it said.  In turn, the United States has dropped its request that Japan ease safety standards on car imports, the report said, adding that such moves were likely to help the two countries reach an agreement in the spring and conclude the TPP deal.

 U.S. President Barack Obama’s top Asia adviser said on Wednesday the administration’s goal was to complete the trade pact this year.  In his State of the Union address, Obama called on Congress to approve “fast track” authority for big trade agreements with Asia-Pacific and European countries, which allow only a yes or no vote on the finished product.

             ●          The trade rules of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the U.S. and 11 Asian nations would cover nearly 40 percent of the world economy – but don’t ask what they are, the International Business Times reported from Davos. Access to the text of the proposed deal is highly restricted. Nevertheless, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman defended the Obama administration Friday at the World Economic Forum from intensifying criticism of its refusal to release the full text of the proposed TPP.

 “We can always do better on transparency,” he said, but added that “there is no area of policy where there is closer collaboration between the executive and Congress than trade policy.” Froman, who said his office has held more than 1,600 briefings with lawmakers over the TPP, said his office also has released summaries of proposed provisions.  Yet the actual text of the agreement remains under lock and key. That represents a significant break from the Bush administration, which in 2001 published the text of a proposed multinational trade agreement with Latin American nations.

             ●         The EU has threatened to impose more sanctions on Russia following its new offensive in south-east Ukraine, the EU Observer reported (WTD, 1/22/15). EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini on Saturday (24 January) said “further escalation … would inevitably lead to a further grave deterioration of relations.”

 Her communique spoke of “offensives by Russia-backed separatists,” adding, “I call therefore openly upon Russia to use its considerable influence over separatist leaders and to stop any form of military, political, or financial support.”  The same day EU Council president Donald Tusk tweeted: “Once again, appeasement encourages the aggressor to greater acts of violence. Time to step up our policy based on cold facts, not illusions.”

 Edgars Rinkevics, the foreign minister of Latvia, which currently holds the EU presidency, called on Mogherini to convene an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers.  “Russia fully responsible to stop them [the attacks], if not, more isolation & sanctions to come,” he said on Twitter.  His Lithuanian counterpart, Linas Linkevicius, also called for “more sanctions” and for military assistance to Ukraine.

             ●          International Trade Minister Ed Fast arrived in Kiev on Sunday for two days of meetings as fighting intensifies between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in the east of the embattled country, the Canadian Press reported (see related report this issue).  Fast, who has been to Ukraine twice is the last six months, is there to talk free trade his counterpart, Aivaras Abromaviius, but also plans to announce four initiatives.

 They will include greater support economic and governance reform as well as a program to promote sustainable economic growth for Ukrainian small and medium-sized farm businesses. Canada is hoping the initiatives will “promote effective economic development to increase private sector-led growth, investment and job creation,” according to government documents.  Negotiations towards such an agreement were given a high-level political jolt last fall during Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s visit to Ottawa, where he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper ordered officials to accelerate their work on the pact.

             ●         Iran is stopping mutual settlements in dollars with foreign countries and agreements on bilateral swap in new currencies will be signed in the near future, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has said according to Reuters news service.  “In trade exchanges with foreign countries, Iran uses other currencies, including Chinese yuan, euro, Turkish lira, Russian ruble and South Korean won,” Gholamali Kamyab, CBI deputy head, told the Tasnim state news agency.

 He added that Iran is considering the possibility of signing bilateral monetary agreements with several countries on the use of other currencies.  Kamyab believes bilateral currency swap agreements will ease trade and economic transactions between Iran and other states.

             ●          The EU and Vietnam completed the eleventh round of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) (WTD, 10/14/14).  Both teams made further progress on all outstanding issues and are working towards a swift conclusion of the negotiations, according to the EU.

 Talks focused in particular on services, investment, government procurement, competition related aspects, and regulatory issues. Chief negotiators also had intense discussions on the key areas included in the FTA. Technical work was completed in three areas, namely the provisions aimed at combatting fraud and the chapters on trade remedies and on trade and sustainable development.

             ●          Japan’s trade deficit swelled to a record $109 billion in 2014, official data showed Monday, weighed down by post-Fukushima disaster energy bills, Agence France-Presse news agency reported.  The shortfall of 12,781 billion yen ($109 billion) was up 11.4 percent from the 2013 deficit and the worst since records began in 1979, according to the finance ministry. In December alone, however, the deficit almost halved from the same month a year before to 660.7 billion yen, thanks to lower oil prices.  In 2014, imports rose 5.7 percent to a record 85.89 trillion yen reflecting increased imports of liquefied natural gas and electric parts, outstripping the 4.8 percent jump in exports to 73.11 trillion yen.  The fall in oil prices contributed to the modest upswing in the value of imports -- up 1.9 percent on the year earlier at 7.56 trillion yen, while exports surged 12.9 percent for the month to 6.90 trillion yen.




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On the Web......

 

Agriculture


FSIS.  Customs and Border Protection announcement of new rules on imports by the Agriculture Department Food Safety Inspection Service.  (available at:  http://apps.cbp.gov/csms/viewmssg.asp?Recid=20482&page=&srch_argv=15-000047&srchtype=all&btype=&sortby=&sby= )  issued:  1/23/15.


Mexico.  Sweetener Users Association statement no the US-Mexico sugar suspension agreement.  (available at:  http://www.sugarreform.org )  issued:  1/23/15.

 


Canada


Trade Policy.  Canadian Trade Minister Fast’s comments in Davos on Canadian trade policy.  (available at:  http://www.international.gc.ca/media/comm/news-communiques/2015/01/24a.aspx?lang=eng )  issued:  1/23/15.



China


Imports.  China submission to the World Trade Organization of its recent antidumping actions.  (available at:  https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/FE_Search/FE_S_S009-DP.aspx?language=E&CatalogueIdList=129906,129918,129913,129914,129909,129908,129905,129931,129932,129933&CurrentCatalogueIdIndex=1&FullTextSearch= )  issued:  1/23/15.



Congress


Senate Finance Committee.  Senate Finance Committee listing of membership in its subcommittees.  (available at:  http://finance.senate.gov )  issued:  1/22/15.


Cuba


US Relations.  Statement by Sen. Durbin on US relations with Cuba.  (available in the Congressional Record of January 20 ).



Customs


Agriculture.  Customs and Border Protection announcement of new rules on imports by the Agriculture Department Food Safety Inspection Service.  (available at:  http://apps.cbp.gov/csms/viewmssg.asp?Recid=20482&page=&srch_argv=15-000047&srchtype=all&btype=&sortby=&sby= )  issued:  1/23/15.


CBP.  Customs Bureau announcement of operationalization of the Center for Expertise on Electronics and Pharmaceuticals.  (available at: http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/2015-01-23-000000/us-customs-and-border-protection%E2%80%99s-centers   )  issued:  1/23/15


TFA.  US Trade Representative’s office statement on the Trade Facilitation Agreement.  (available at:  http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/press-releases/2015/January/United-States-Takes-Final-Step-Toward-WTO-Trade-Facilitation-Agreement )  issued:  1/23/15.TFA


TFA.  National Foreign Trade Council statement on the Trade Facilitation Agreement.  (available at:  http://www.nftc.org )  issued:  1/24/15.



Energy


Natural Gas.  Text of HR 351 introduced January 14 by Rep. Johnson of Ohio to speed the application process for approval of exported natural gas.  (available at:  http://thomas.loc.gov ).

Natural Gas.  Text of HR 428 introduced by Rep. Poe on January 21 to expedite the application process for approval of exported natural gas.  (available at:  http://thomas.loc.gov ).



Environment


TPA.  Letter to President Obama from several environmental groups opposing Trade Promotion Authority.  (available at: http://www.sierra.org )  issued:  1/22/15.



Export Controls


Korea (North).  Text of HR 204 introduced January 8 by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen to impose sanctions on North Korea.  (available at:  http://thomas.loc.gov ).



Export-Import Bank


Exports.  US Export-Import Bank fact sheet on its global access exporter forums.  (available at:  http://www.exim.gov )  issued:  1/21/15.


Fact Sheet.  US Export-Import Bank fact sheet.  (available at:  http://www.exim.gov )  issued:  1/5/15.


Louisiana.  US Export-Import Bank statement on exports from Louisiana.  (available at:  http://www.exim.gov/newsandevents/releases/2015/Export-Import-Bank-Small-Business-Success-Story-Reliable-Industries-Inc-of-New-Orleans.cfm )  issued:  1/23/15.


Small Business.  US Export-Import Bank fact sheet for small business.  (available at:  http://www.exim.gov )  issued:  12/14.



Food and Beverages


Imports.  Customs and Border Protection announcement of new rules on imports by the Agriculture Department Food Safety Inspection Service.  (available at:  http://apps.cbp.gov/csms/viewmssg.asp?Recid=20482&page=&srch_argv=15-000047&srchtype=all&btype=&sortby=&sby= )  issued:  1/23/15.



Health and Safety


Food Imports.  Customs and Border Protection announcement of new rules on imports by the Agriculture Department Food Safety Inspection Service.  (available at:  http://apps.cbp.gov/csms/viewmssg.asp?Recid=20482&page=&srch_argv=15-000047&srchtype=all&btype=&sortby=&sby= )  issued:  1/23/15.



India


US Relations.  Statement by Rep. Royce on US-India relations.  (available at:  http://foreignaffairs.house.gov )  issued:  1/13/14.



Korea (North)


Sanctions.  Text of HR 204 introduced January 8 by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen to impose sanctions on North Korea.  (available at:  http://thomas.loc.gov ).



Latin America


Foreign Investment.  Commerce Department statement on foreign investment in Latin America.  (available at:  http://www.commerce.gov/blog/2015/01/23/san-antonio-mbda-business-center%E2%80%99s-export-strategies-support-foreign-direct-investme )  issued:  1/23/15.



Mexico


Sugar.  Sweetener Users Association statement no the US-Mexico sugar suspension agreement.  (available at:  http://www.sugarreform.org )  issued:  1/23/15.


Small Business


Ex-Im Bank.  US Export-Import Bank fact sheet for small business.  (available at:  http://www.exim.gov )  issued:  12/14.



States


Louisiana.  US Export-Import Bank statement on exports from Louisiana.  (available at:  http://www.exim.gov/newsandevents/releases/2015/Export-Import-Bank-Small-Business-Success-Story-Reliable-Industries-Inc-of-New-Orleans.cfm )  issued:  1/23/15.



Trade Policy


FTAs.  Statement by Rep. Lee on US free trade agreements.  (available in the Congressional Record of January 21 ).


TPA.  Letter to President Obama from several environmental groups opposing Trade Promotion Authority.  (available at: http://www.sierra.org )  issued:  1/22/15.



World Economy


WEF.  Summary of session on the world economy with the World Economic Forum with Commerce Secretary Pritzker.  (available at:  http://www.commerce.gov/blog/2015/01/23/secretary-pritzker-attends-world-economic-forum-highlight-priorities-integral-lastin )  issued:  1/23/15.



World Trade Organization


TFA.  National Foreign Trade Council statement on the Trade Facilitation Agreement.  (available at:  http://www.nftc.org )  issued:  1/24/15.


What we’re covering this week –

       The House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees hold their annual hearings on the Administration’s trade policy agenda.  US Trade Representative Michael Froman is the sole witness at both hearings.

  Meanwhile, the Senate Banking Committee marks up legislation ratcheting up sanctions on Iran, despite the President’s pleas that Congress not consider any legislation while nuclear talks are still underway with Tehran.

 Here are some of the events we’ll be following this week –

             ●          Monday, negotiators for the TransPacific Partnership kick off a week of talks in New York City.

             ●          Tuesday, USTR Froman appears before the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees to discuss the President’s trade agenda.

             ●          The Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing on Iran sanctions with a panel of Administration witnesses.  Iran sanctions also are the subject of a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.

             ●          Also Tuesday, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) appears at a Heritage Foundation event to releases its annual Index of Economic Freedom report.

             ●          Wednesday, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif) hosts a program on reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

             ●          On Thursday, Senate Banking marks up the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015.

             ●          Friday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) discusses his trade agenda at a program sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute.

             ●          The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies sponsors a program with European Parliament member Gianni Pittella on US-European Union relations.



Our  Blog


Updated:  1/6/15

 WTD’s

Friday Afternoon

Podcast

Straight talk.   

Click the highlighted text to hear snippets from WTD’s straight talk.

•  House Speaker John Boehner on December 4 comments on President Obama’s call for Trade Promotion Authority.

•  Canadian Ambassador to the United States Gary Doer comments on Trade Promotion Authority and the TransPacific Partnership on October 9 at the Financial Services Roundtable.

•  House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp speaks to WTD about prospects for Trade Promotion Authority legislation on September 18.

•  Visiting South African President Jacob Zuma was asked at the National Press Club on August 4 what impact has President Obama’s color had on US relations with Africa.

•  Comments by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden to the press on trade and transparency on July 16.

•  Australia News Network interviews World Trade Organization Director General Roberto Azevedo during his visit to the G-20 meetings in Sydney on July 17.

•  New House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on June 22 tells Fox News Sunday why the US Export-Import Bank should end.

•  Here’s why Congressional ignorance can be very dangerous when it comes to willy-nilly support for free trade agreements, according to consumer advocate Ralph Nader.

 •  Here’s what’s at stake with Trade Promotion Authority and why Louisiana Republican Rep. Charles Boustany can’t sleep at night.

 •  Here’s what Wisconsin Republican Rep. Tom Petri said on the House floor April 10 about TTIP and Bratwurst.

 •  Here’s a brief interview with the Heritage Foundation’s Foundry report with House Financial Services Chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) on the dangers of renewing the US Export-Import Bank given April 17.

 •  Here’s a brief snippet from remarks April 8 by Senate Finance Committee ranking Republican Orrin Hatch saying he is befuddled over why the President says he supports Trade Promotion Authority but doesn’t do anything about.

 •  Here’s Aspen Institute scholar and former Reagan Administration Assistant Secretary of Commerce speaking about with WTD on the many iterations of a US-European Union free trade agreement after a recent Hudson Institute event.

 •  Here’s what veteran House Democrat Richard Neal (Mass) – one of four cochairs of the new House TTIP Caucus – told WTD during a reception celebrating the caucus creation on April 3.

 •  Here’s what World Trade Organization chief spokesperson Keith Rockwell said in Washington on how and why the WTO is back.

 •  Here’s what Council of Economic Advisors Chair Jason Furman told the Joint Economic Committee last week about why there is so little mention of trade in the Economic Report of the President.

 •  This is why the European Union is wrong when it says it will never allow imports of US hormone-treated beef, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack tells WTD.