MTB on the way?
With help from Victoria Guida and Doug Palmer
MTB ON THE WAY?: A miscellaneous tariff bill is expected to drop today, one day ahead of a House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee hearing on the legislation. Manufacturers hope the bill, which aims to reform the process for selecting tariff waivers, will move before the July recess by suspension of rules in the House and unanimous consent in the Senate, but it’s not yet clear whether there will be any hiccups to that plan, a U.S. business source says. The source expects the Senate to take up the legislation that comes out of the House.
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The bill would put the U.S. International Trade Commission in charge of initially vetting business petitions for the tariff waivers. One thing the source says he will be watching for is how the petition process for ITC is set up.
IT’S WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13! Welcome to Morning Trade, where we’re wondering on the occasion of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday today if the third president’s decision to support the Embargo Act of 1807 would pass muster at the WTO. http://bit.ly/1T2KP3U Thoughts? Suggestions? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org or @abehsudi.
MCCONNELL READY TO MOVE ON EX-IM NOMINEE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he would be happy to move forward with a pending nomination for the Export-Import Bank’s board if the Senate Banking Committee decides to act on it. “As you may recall, I’m not a supporter of Ex-Im Bank, but 65 senators were,” McConnell told reporters after the weekly Republican caucus lunch. “And I would hope the committee would report out the nominee. And if the committee reports out the nominee, I’ll be happy to take it up.”
Senate confirmation of Republican Mark McWatters to the board would provide the quorum necessary to approve deals above $10 million. McConnell recommended McWatters for the slot, as is traditional with board positions reserved for the opposition party.
Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) so far has said he has no interest in moving the nominee because he’s opposed to Ex-Im. Conservatives call the bank an agent of crony capitalism and say it provides big companies with corporate welfare.
HATCH STILL SHOOTING FOR THE MOON ON BIOLOGICS: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch told POLITICO Tuesday that he’s still pushing for a full 12 years of data protection for biological drugs in the Trans-Pacific Partnership despite resistance to that time frame from TPP members like Australia and Chile. “They’re going to have to change it,” Hatch said of the Australians. “We can’t live with that five-year data exclusivity.”
The 12 countries in the TPP would have two options for protecting biologics test data, both of which fall short of the full 12 years sought by the pharmaceutical industry. The Obama administration argues that both options provide eight years of protection, but pharmaceutical companies say they believe one of the provisions effectively provides only five years.
When asked if he wanted to make sure the deal would really provide eight years of protection, Hatch said: “Not eight years. 12 years.” And asked what it would mean if it wasn’t possible to get 12 years, the Utah Republican said, “Then I don’t think this agreement will last.” But he expressed optimism a deal could be reached on that issue.
** A message from Allied Progress and American Family Voices: Protect America’s Consumers is a shady front group set up by industry insiders to undermine Senator Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) she fought to create. Learn how you can spot shady groups like Protect America’s Consumers: http://bit.ly/23fDtSV **
MULTILATERAL DEAL AMONG USTR’S ANSWERS TO STEEL WOES: U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said on Tuesday that the administration is working on a possible multilateral agreement as one way of helping the U.S. steel sector deal with China and other suppliers flooding the market with unfairly priced and subsidized steel, Pro Trade’s Doug Palmer reports. “We’re working with allies and partners, including Canada, Mexico, Japan and the United Kingdom, to seek commitments from key producer countries on capacity and production reductions,” he said while chairing the first morning of a two-day hearing. Deputy USTR Robert Holleyman and Commerce Undersecretary Stefan Selig will lead a government and industry delegation to Brussels next week to push for the agreement, Froman revealed.
Industrial state lawmakers used the event on Tuesday to call for strong action against China and others, including turning back shipments that deliberately circumvent U.S. duties. The administration should bring a World Trade Organization case against China to force it to cut excess capacity and be prepared to support the U.S. steel industry if it decides to ask for broad emergency import protections under “Section 201” of U.S. trade law, said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
“Our steel companies shouldn’t have to wait and watch subsidized or dumped imports drive them to the verge of going out of business or force them to lay off hundreds of workers before they can get relief,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Pros can read the rest of Palmer’s article here.
U.S. MAKES SECOND COMPLIANCE PANEL REQUEST IN TUNA CASE: The United States has asked the World Trade Organization to form another compliance panel to determine if the Obama administration’s new requirements for dolphin-safe labeling of tuna are in line with global trade rules.
The U.S. tried and failed in 2013 to come into compliance with the original ruling, which prompted Mexico to move forward recently with a request for retaliation, the next step in a WTO dispute if the defendant is found to be violating trade rules. After Mexico proposed slapping duties on close to $475 million in U.S. exports, Washington issued new regulations last month that raised standards for tuna caught in other fisheries to qualify for the dolphin-safe label, bringing them up to the requirements for the Eastern Tropical Pacific.
But Mexico could take issue with the latest U.S. move. The two countries had agreed to a sequence for compliance and retaliation arbitration, but it did not cover a U.S. request for a second compliance panel. It’s therefore unclear whether the retaliation proceedings and the new compliance proceedings will go forward in parallel. A deal will likely have to be reached between the two sides on the timing for both panels.
U.S. SHOE INDUSTRY STANDS BEHIND TPP: The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America and the American Apparel and Footwear Association made a point of declaring their support for the TPP Tuesday following reports by the Boston Globe that New Balance is now opposed to the agreement.
New Balance has been wary of how the TPP could impact its factories in New England, where it employs more than 1,350 workers, but previously was containing its criticism of the deal because it was told last year that the Department of Defense would strongly consider purchasing its athletic shoes if it went along with the administration’s plans, according to the Globe. That contract hasn’t materialized, and the department is deliberately holding off on a purchase, company officials reportedly said.
“New Balance’s position is especially surprising as it is one of the companies that would see significant tariff reduction under the agreement,” FDRA president Matt Priest said in a statement. AAFA president Rick Helfenbein said TPP would allow its members, which includes New Balance, to stay competitive, but also seemed to scold the administration for its decision to delay its procurement of domestically produced athletic footwear for the military.
The Rubber and Plastic Footwear Manufacturers Association said it’s maintaining its neutral position on the TPP but respects New Balance’s decision to protest the agreement over the fact that the administration could exempt athletic footwear from the Berry Amendment, which requires the military to procure domestically produced clothing and footwear.
THE (INITIAL) VERDICT IS IN ON PRIVACY SHIELD: The EU’s data protection authorities want clarification on the powers of the ombudsman, assurances on bulk data collection and a review of the privacy shield data transfer framework in two years, according to their non-binding verdict on the EU-U.S. agreement, released today, POLITICO Europe’s Zoya Sheftalovich reports.
“We believe that we don’t have enough security guarantees in the status of the ombudsperson … in order to be sure that this is really an independent authority,” said Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, the chair of the so-called Article 29 Working Party of the EU’s data protection authorities. Click here to read more here.
The Mexican president says his country would be open to adopting rules from an EU-U.S. trade deal, Reuters reports.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the TPP is vital to American economic, strategic and diplomatic interests, the Washington Post reports.
International public health groups call for Congress to reject TPP, The Hill reports.
Canadian milk producers are alleging that the government is letting in certain U.S. dairy products without collecting tariffs, the Canadian Press reports.
Australia says it’s close to signing a trade deal with India, Bloomberg reports.
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** A message from Allied Progress and American Family Voices: Protect America’s Consumers is a shady front group set up by industry insiders to undermine Sen. Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB was established to do exactly what Protect America’s Consumers is pretending to do: protect American consumers from dangerous lending and banking practices and make sure we never have another financial crisis. We put together a short primer on groups like Protect America’s Consumers in order to expose their shady tactics and hold them accountable for their actions and so that their true motives are understood. http://bit.ly/23fDtSV **