Legislative Update: Asia, Market Access, E-Commerce, Border Security
Asia. The Senate approved Dec. 5 the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (S. 2736, sponsored by Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Ed Markey, D-Mass.), which Gardner said provides “a whole-of-government, long-term strategy in Asia that advances American national security interests, promotes American businesses and creates jobs through trade opportunities, and projects American values of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.” A fact sheet from Gardner’s office states that this bill includes provisions to (a) authorize bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations with Indo-Pacific nations, (b) provide for robust U.S. commercial presence throughout the Indo-Pacific region to promote U.S. exports and additional trade facilitation efforts, (c) authorize the imposition of penalties on entities and governments engaged in the theft of U.S. intellectual property, and (d) require a new comprehensive U.S. policy to promote energy exports.
Foreign Market Access. The Championing American Businesses Through Diplomacy Act (H.R. 7153, introduced Nov. 16 by Rep. McCaul, R-Texas) would prioritize economic and commercial diplomacy at U.S. missions throughout the world to help U.S. businesses achieve better access to foreign markets. Among other things, this bill would (a) streamline country commercial guides and investment climate statements and combine them into one annual guide for each country, (b) require U.S. embassies to report the specific actions they take each year to help U.S. businesses achieve market access as well as levels of private-sector commercial competition from other strategic competitor nation states, and (c) require a report to Congress on assessments of commercial activity in strategic areas from competing nation states that threatens U.S. national security.
E-Commerce. The No Retroactive Online Taxation Act (H.R. 7184, introduced Nov. 28 by Rep. Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.) would ban states from imposing a sales tax collection duty on a remote seller for any sale that occurred before June 21, 2018.
Border Security. The U.S. Ports of Entry Threat and Operational Review Act (S. 3706, introduced Dec. 5 by Sen. Cornyn, R-Texas), would require the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an in-depth analysis of the strengths, opportunities, and vulnerabilities of land, sea, and air ports of entry to enable the promotion of more efficient trade and travel across U.S. borders while decreasing illegal activity. This analysis would include (a) current and potential threats posed by individuals and organized groups seeking to exploit security vulnerabilities at ports of entry, (b) methods and pathways used to exploit such vulnerabilities, (c) improvements needed at ports of entry to prevent the unlawful movement of people, illicit drugs, and other contraband across U.S. borders, (d) improvements needed to enhance travel and trade facilitation and reduce wait times at ports of entry, (e) processes conducted at ports of entry that do not require law enforcement training that could be fulfilled with private-sector employees or non-law enforcement staff, and (f) improvements needed during secondary inspections to meet food safety standards.