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Legislative Update: Foreign Investment, Imports, Exports, Trade Agreements

Monday, May 28, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Foreign Investment. The House Financial Services Committee approved May 22 the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (H.R. 5841), which seeks to modernize and strengthen the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to more effectively guard against the risk to U.S. national security posed by certain types of foreign investment. According to a press release from bill sponsor Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., this bill would (a) expand CFIUS jurisdiction, (b) update the CFIUS definition of “critical technologies” to include emerging technologies that could be essential for maintaining the U.S. technological advantage over countries that pose threats, (c) add new national security factors to the review process, and (d) strengthen the government’s ability to protect critical infrastructure from foreign government disruption. According to press sources, the committee rejected efforts to expand CFIUS’ review authority to outbound investments and foreign joint ventures involving sensitive technologies.

The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee approved similar legislation (S. 2098) May 23. That bill was amended to include a provision limiting the president’s ability to lift the export ban imposed by the Commerce Department on Chinese telecommunications company ZTE. This bill was subsequently attached to the National Defense Authorization Act.

Oil and Gas Exports. S. 2886 (introduced May 21 by Sen. Markey, D-Mass.) would reinstate the ban on the export of crude oil and natural gas produced in the U.S. Markey said that as a result of the lifting of this ban “historic amounts of U.S. oil are now going to foreign nations rather than staying here to benefit American consumers.”

S. 2929 (introduced May 23 by Sen. Markey) would require the U.S. trade representative to pursue a complaint of anticompetitive practices against certain oil exporting countries.

The Energizing American Shipbuilding Act (H.R. 5893, introduced May 21 by Rep. Garamendi, D-Calif., and S. 2916, introduced May 22 by Sen. Wicker, R-Miss.) would require a certain percentage of liquefied natural gas and crude oil exports to be transported on U.S.-built and U.S.-flag vessels.

Trade Agreements. H.R. 5909 (introduced May 22 by Rep. DeLauro, D-Conn.) seeks to enhance reciprocal market access for U.S. domestic producers in the negotiating process of bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade agreements.

Imports. The Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2927, introduced May 23 by Sen. Baldwin, D-Wis.) would amend the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 to increase interagency cooperation in the enforcement of standards for importing organic agricultural products. According to a press release from Baldwin’s office, this bill is designed to ensure that all organic products admitted at U.S. ports of entry are authentic and prohibit the entry of products labeled as organic that do not meet National Organic Program standards.

The Crime Gun Tracing Modernization Act (S. 2974, introduced May 24 by Sen. Leahy, D-Vt.) would require an electronic, searchable database of the importation, production, shipment, receipt, sale, or other disposition of firearms.

Arms Exports. The End the Cyprus Embargo Act (S. 2963, introduced May 24 by Sen. Menendez, D-N.J.) would repeal the U.S. arms embargo on Cyprus that has been in place since 1987.

Export Promotion. H.R. 5967 (introduced May 24 by Rep. Kuster, D-N.H.) would establish a single export promotion agency in the executive branch.

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