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This Week In Trade

Malmström meets with USTR in DC; Lighthizer seeks auto union support for USMCA

Posted: March 04, 2019

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström travels to Washington, DC, this week to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other U.S. officials to discuss the state-of-play of U.S.-EU trade negotiations, as well as World Trade Organization reform, Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, and possible Section 232 auto tariffs, according to a Commission spokesman.

Malmström will meet with Lighthizer on Wednesday and with National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow on Thursday, the spokesman said. Malmström will also give a keynote lecture at Georgetown Law’s annual “International Trade Update” on Thursday.

The EU trade commissioner will update her U.S. counterpart on the status of the EU’s negotiating mandates, which must be approved before the bloc can formally negotiate with the U.S. EU member states are expected to make a decision on the Commission-proposed mandates covering deals on industrial goods and conformity assessments after the EU Parliament votes on its non-binding recommendations for the mandates. Parliament could vote on the recommendations during next week’s plenary, but a vote is not yet on the agenda.

Malmström’s meeting with USTR will come the day after Lighthizer meets with the United Autoworkers in Detroit. Reuters reported that Lighthizer is headed to Detroit to seek the union's support of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. UAW confirmed Lighthizer is meeting with union representatives, but did not comment on the nature of the meeting.

The UAW meeting is the latest push by the administration to curry support for the renegotiated NAFTA deal. Last week, Lighthizer told members of the Ways & Means Committee the U.S. trade program would have “no future” if the USMCA was not ratified. Kudlow also urged governors last week to push for USMCA ratification as a way to increase U.S. negotiating leverage with China. Business groups also announced the launch of two new coalitions focused on securing the congressional passage of USMCA.

Georgetown Law’s trade update

Administration officials will address USMCA and other U.S. priorities at the Georgetown Law trade update event on Thursday and Friday. Kelly Ann Shaw, the special assistant to the president for international trade, investment and development, will discuss challenges to the global trading system during a Thursday panel also slated to feature former USTR Susan Schwab and WTO Deputy Director Alan Wolff.

The assistant USTR for monitoring and enforcement, Juan Millan, will take part in an off-the-record panel discussion on the year ahead for the WTO. Millan will be joined by former WTO Appellate Body member and former USTR General Counsel Jennifer Hillman, WTO Secretariat Rules Division Director Clarisse Morgan and Matthew Kronby, a partner at Borden Ladner Gervais.

Private-sector representatives will discuss the impact of Section 201, 301 and 232 tariffs on companies during a Thursday afternoon discussion. The National Foreign Trade Council's vice president for legal affairs and trade and investment policy, Vanessa Sciarra, will moderate a panel on the Trump administration and the supply chain with Sidley Austin’s Richard Belanger, Cisco Systems’ Jill Franze, the Lear Corporation’s Steven Gardon, and Kelley Drye & Warren’s Brooke Ringel.

Deputy NEC Director Clete Willems will give the Friday morning keynote at the trade conference. Congressional staffers from the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance committees will then take part in an off-the-record discussion on trade policy.

U.S. chief NAFTA negotiator John Melle, Mexican chief negotiator Kenneth Smith Ramos and the Canadian embassy’s minister-counsellor for trade and economic policy, Colin Bird, will discuss the USMCA during a Friday morning discussion.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Policy and Negotiations P. Lee Smith will discuss the department's increased role in Section 232 proceedings and other key agency decisions on Friday afternoon. Wiley Rein’s Tim Brightbill will moderate the panel, which is also set to feature Justice Department Senior Trial Counsel Tara Hogan and Arent Fox’s Diana Dimitriuc Quaia.

U.S. International Trade Commissioner Jason Kearns will headline a panel discussion on emerging issues at the ITC alongside Mary Jane Alves of Cassidy Levy Kent and Julie Mendoza of Morris, Manning & Martin. The panel will be moderated by Deanna Tanner Okun of Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg.

The conference’s final panel is an off-the-record discussion with USTR’s chief counsel for China trade enforcement, Philip Chen. The discussion is slated to be moderated by Arnold & Porter’s Claire Reade and include Harvard Law Professor Mark Wu and U.S.-China Business Council Senior Vice President Erin Ennis.

Other Events

  • The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a Monday discussion on digital trade rules with Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA); Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Diane Rinaldo, of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; the EU delegation’s minister-counsellor for digital economy policy, Peter Fatelnig; and others.
  • The Washington International Trade Association will host a forum on Tuesday on the future of Asia-Pacific trade featuring Elisabeth Bowes, minister-counselor at the Embassy of Australia; Andrea Phua, economic counselor at the Embassy of Singapore; Han-Koo Yeo, minister-counselor at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea; Douglas Bell, global trade policy leader at Ernst and Young; Kevin Lu, partner and Asia chairman at the Partners Group; Drew Quinn, trade and development policy director at General Electric; Barbara Weisel, managing director of Rock Creek Global Advisors; and Orit Frenkel, president of Frenkel Strategies.
  • The ITC will hold a Wednesday hearing on the probable economic effects of a trade deal between the U.S. and UK.
  • Martin Selmayr, the European Commission’s secretary-general, will discuss multilateralism in Europe at the Brookings Institution on Wednesday.
  • The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on security will hold a Thursday hearing on the challenges China poses for U.S. commerce. -- Brett Fortnam (bfortnam@iwpnews.com)