Legislative Update: MTB, CTPAT, Trade Nominations, Investment, Gas Exports
MTB. The House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee held a hearing Oct. 25 as part of its preparation of a miscellaneous tariff bill implementing as many as 1,800 duty suspensions or reductions that the International Trade Commission recommended for inclusion in an MTB. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said this week he anticipates an MTB will be passed by the end of this year. The last MTB expired Dec. 31, 2012.
CTPAT. The House approved by a 402-1 vote Oct. 23 the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3551), which includes changes to the program’s eligibility, benefits, and requirements.
Trade Nominations. The Senate Finance Committee ordered favorably reported Oct. 24 the nominations of Jeffrey Gerrish to be deputy U.S. trade representative for Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and industrial competitiveness; Gregory Droud to be USTR chief agricultural negotiator; and Jason Kearns to be a member of the International Trade Commission.
Foreign Investment. The U.S. Foreign Investment Review Act (S. 1983, introduced Oct. 18 by Sen Brown, D-Ohio) would establish a process to determine the long-term economic effect of foreign investments on the U.S. A press release from Brown’s office states that this bill would require reviews of (a) any foreign investment that results in foreign control of any U.S. entity worth more than $1 billion and (b) any transaction by a state-owned enterprise that would result in control of a U.S. entity worth more than $50 million. The Commerce Department would have 15 days (which could be extended up to 60 days) to approve or prohibit a proposed transaction. There would be a ten-day comment period for each investment subject to an extended review, and all decisions would have to be made public.
Natural Gas Exports. The Small Scale LNG Access Act of 2017 (S. 1981, introduced Oct. 18 by Sen. Cassidy, R-La.) would expedite approval of exports of natural gas equal to or less than 51.1 billion cubic feet per year, which largely go to markets in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Such exports would be deemed consistent with the public interest and granted without modification or delay. This bill would codify a regulatory change proposed Sept. 1 by the Department of Energy.