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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.
Federal lawmakers acted this month to ensure that data on export control license applications remains exempt from disclosure under the Freedom Of Information Act.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative declined this week to take further action against India under the Special 301 intellectual property rights enforcement process, a decision that drew disapproval from the incoming chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
According to press reports, China refused a request from Korea and Taiwan to extend ITA coverage to liquid crystal displays used in televisions and computer monitors and then rejected an effort to add alternative products of commercial interest to those countries.
An omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the federal government through Sept. 30, 2015, was approved Dec. 11 by the House of Representatives and was expected to pass the Senate soon thereafter.
U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman and European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström met in Washington Dec. 8 to review the state of the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
A press release from Industry Canada states that under this new law the Canada Border Services Agency will be able to work with businesses and intellectual property rights holders to identify counterfeit goods at the border and will have the power to search for and detain such goods to prevent them from entering the Canadian marketplace.
In what has been called one of the most complicated decisions it has ever handled, the WTO Appellate Body reportedly rejected most of the more than 80 challenges in India’s appeal of a dispute settlement panel ruling concerning U.S. countervailing duties on certain hot-rolled carbon steel flat products from India but upheld others, yielding a decision that U.S. trade officials again described as “mixed.”
President Obama indicated in remarks to The Business Roundtable Dec. 3 that he will make a personal effort to advance trade promotion authority legislation, which supporters say is necessary to ensure that free trade agreements currently under negotiation with Europe and Pacific Rim countries have the best opportunity for congressional approval.