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Legislative Update: Congressional Changes, Technology Theft, GSP

Thursday, January 10, 2019
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Senate Finance Committee. Republican Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, and Todd Young of Indiana have joined the Senate Finance Committee. Two of the spots replace former Committee Chair Orrin Hatch of Utah, who retired, and Dean Heller of Nevada, who lost his bid for reelection last November. Republicans have also added an additional slot on the committee for the 116th Congress.

Foreign Technology Theft. Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have introduced legislation that would create an Office of Critical Technologies and Security at the White House that would be responsible for coordinating across agencies and developing a long-term, whole-of-government strategy to protect against state-sponsored technology theft and risks to critical supply chains. 

A press release from Warner’s office states that this bill aims to improve the federal response to challenges such as China and other nations attempting to achieve technological and economic superiority over the U.S. through the improper acquisition and transfer of critical technologies as well as U.S. reliance on foreign products that have been identified as national security risks (e.g., those manufactured by Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei). Specifically, the new office would be directed to coordinate and consult with federal and state tech and telecom regulators, the private sector, nongovernmental experts and academic stakeholders, and key international partners and U.S. allies to ensure that every available tool is being utilized to safeguard supply chains and protect emerging, foundational, and dual-use technologies.

GSP. The Cambodian Trade Act (S. 34, introduced Jan. 8 by Sen. Cruz, R-Texas) would require the executive branch to review the preferential trade treatment Cambodia receives under the General System of Preferences. Cruz explained that “Prime Minister Hun Sen has exploited preferential treatment afforded to [Cambodia] by the United States and Europe” and “has failed to meet basic labor rights standards, undermined the integrity of elections in Cambodia, and tilted toward China."

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