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Daily News

March 18, 2021

As automakers work to ramp up production of electric vehicles while trying to comply with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s stringent rules of origin, Congress can help companies “reckon” with the challenge by mapping out battery supply chains, the co-chair of a new Democratic working group on domestic manufacturing said on Thursday.

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One of the first tasks for the new U.S. Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, will be a discussion of trade issues with her British counterpart next week, according to a British Embassy spokesperson.

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March 17, 2021

A group of progressive Democrats is upping the pressure on President Biden to reverse course at the World Trade Organization and support a proposal to waive some intellectual property rights to help combat the pandemic, a move they called a “moral obligation.”

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday warned Democrats against tacking on unrelated provisions to a legislative package aimed at countering China and boosting U.S. competitiveness in science and technology.

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The Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved Katherine Tai to be President Biden’s U.S. Trade Representative, clearing the way for her to become the 19th USTR in U.S. history. 

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Former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday expressed approval of the Biden administration’s handling of China policy so far and admitted a phase-two deal with Beijing was never a likely proposition.

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A bipartisan group of senators has re-introduced a bill to amend the Trade Promotion Authority law to include a negotiating objective that addresses global communications infrastructure security by focusing on state-owned enterprises.

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March 16, 2021

The Senate Finance Committee is considering several bills aimed at boosting U.S. competitiveness with China by changing tax laws to incentivize domestic manufacturing and research and development, particularly for technologies such as semiconductors.

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The World Trade Organization members participating in the plurilateral negotiations on e-commerce have not settled on a legal path for any agreement to be adopted into the WTO framework, one of the co-conveners of the talks said on Tuesday – though he is confident such a path exists, according to a Geneva-based trade official familiar with the negotiations.

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The Senate on Tuesday invoked cloture on the nomination of Katherine Tai, President Biden’s choice for U.S. Trade Representative, teeing up a full vote on Wednesday. 

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A bipartisan group of senators on Monday re-introduced legislation to reform Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 by delegating the authority to initiate investigations to the Defense Department and giving Congress a more substantial role in assessing any proposed restrictions.

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March 15, 2021

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection advisory group is recommending the agency collaborate more closely with other departments, as well as with the private sector, to develop an “objective” way to measure success in the agency’s efforts against forced labor, according to a new draft report.

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The Biden administration late last week filed a “master answer” to the thousands of lawsuits that have been filed at the U.S. Court of International Trade against Section 301 tariffs on China, arguing that then-President Trump was within his rights to impose the duties.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Japan this week to meet with his counterpart and other officials for discussions on a range of issues including digital trade, an area analysts say is ripe for the two countries to address in trying to counter China’s influence.

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March 12, 2021

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Friday announced the U.S., Australia, Japan and India will launch a working group that will “help set standards” on 5G, artificial intelligence and other technologies and examine supply chain issues to prevent shortages of critical materials like semiconductors and rare earths.

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The U.S. Court of International Trade this week dismissed a challenge to the Commerce Department’s Section 232 exclusion process, saying the national security-based statute provides the administration with broad discretion.

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Vice President Kamala Harris and World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala spoke by phone on Thursday, touching on WTO reform issues, post-pandemic economic recovery and sustainable development, the White House said in a statement.

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Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) is calling on the Federal Maritime Commission to urgently seek answers and consider “enforcement options” following reports that ocean carriers are refusing to ship U.S. agricultural goods. 

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March 11, 2021

The U.S. technology industry wants the administration and Congress to work together to fund a law that creates incentives for semiconductor manufacturers in the U.S. to keep them globally competitive, but it also wants more than money – it wants the government to work with the private sector to formulate a broad strategy to encourage U.S. innovation beyond chip fabrication, according to industry analysts.

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Widespread, ongoing forced labor in the Xinjiang region in China – and of the Uyghur population in China writ large – is of a “scale and complexity” that presents challenges for trade enforcement rules and supply chain transparency, several stakeholders closely following the issue said on Thursday.

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