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The U.S. has issued a fact sheet providing additional details on the outcomes achieved at the 25th meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade held Dec. 16-18 in Chicago.
The President’s Export Council recently submitted to the president its mid-term report outlining achievements and recommendations in the areas of global competitiveness, export promotion and advocacy, export administration, manufacturing, services and others.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released Dec. 22 its second annual assessment of Russia’s compliance with its World Trade Organization commitments. The report reviews specific commitments that Russia undertook as part of its accession to the WTO as well as Russia’s implementation of those commitments. After an encouraging first year as a WTO member Russia has begun to show signs of backsliding during its second year and many protectionist tendencies appear to have gained momentum.
The Department of State has announced that the U.S. will provide certain limited and temporary sanctions relief in order to implement the Nov. 24, 2013 Joint Plan of Action between the P5+1 (the U.S., Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France, plus Germany) and Iran, as extended through June 30, 2015.
The Mexican government announced earlier this month a set of measures aimed at combatting unfair trade practices affecting the textile and apparel sector and enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of domestic manufacturers in the face of mounting foreign competition.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is seeking comments by March 16 on a proposed rule that would strengthen restrictions on phthalates in children’s toys and child care articles. The CPSC is proposing to adopt nearly all of the recommendations in a July 2014 report by the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel and a final rule would enter into force 180 days from its date of publication in the Federal Register.
The lower house of the Indian Parliament began discussions Dec. 19 on a new bill that, if approved, would represent a very substantial change to tax law in India. According to BMR Advisors, a professional services firm offering a range of tax, mergers and acquisition and risk advisory services in both India and internationally, the bill proposes a complete revamping of current tax law in the subcontinent that has been in place for decades.
President Obama issued Dec. 23 a proclamation making three changes to the coverage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, extending an agricultural agreement with Israel and making certain other technical changes.
The Department of Justice announced Dec. 22 that a French power and transportation company has agreed to pay a $772 million criminal penalty to settle charges related to a widespread scheme involving tens of millions of dollars in bribes in various countries around the world in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole observed that if the settlement is approved by the court next year it will be the largest foreign bribery penalty in the history of the Justice Department.
The ITC has issued a report that finds that Indian policy barriers represent a significant hindrance to U.S. exports to and investment in the South Asian giant. The report features the results of an ITC survey of U.S. firms in selected industries that are currently doing business in India, a quantitative analysis (using economic modeling) of the effects of Indian policy measures on U.S. workers and the U.S. economy, and qualitative research into these effects.
The Department of Commerce announced Dec. 19 that it has finalized agreements with the government of Mexico and Mexican sugar exporters to suspend its antidumping and countervailing duty investigations of Mexican sugar. The finalized deals incorporate several changes from the draft suspension agreements that Commerce initialed on Oct. 27, including a revised definition of refined sugar and adjustments to the reference price.
President Obama on Dec. 19 issued an executive order prohibiting the importation and exportation of goods, technology and services from/to Crimea. This action also bans new U.S. investments in Crimea and authorizes the Treasury Department to impose sanctions on individual and entities operating in the region. The Treasury Department indicates in a separate press release that the Office of Foreign Assets Control has simultaneously issued a general license to authorize the sale of agricultural commodities, medicine and medical supplies to Crimea.
A “reimagined” U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting in Chicago this past week yielded “significant progress” in the areas of agricultural market access, intellectual property rights protection, innovation policies and competition law enforcement, the Department of Commerce reports.
Outgoing Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has sent a letter to the International Trade Commission requesting a report by Sept. 15, 2015, analyzing the economic effect on exports of U.S. goods and services, including digitally traded goods and services, of statutory and administrative restrictions related to trade with and travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens.
The Obama administration announced Dec. 17 a number of measures designed to “chart a new course in [U.S.] relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people.” While the changes include some easing of restrictions on trade, the general U.S. embargo against Cuba remains in place and would require congressional action to be lifted.