Trade Facilitation. The Global Gateways Trade Capacity Act (S. 2201, introduced Oct. 22 by Sen. Corker, R-Tenn.) would put the State Department in charge of coordinating a whole-of-government effort to improve the effectiveness of U.S. assistance for expanding trade in developing countries, which would include the following.
- establishing an interagency committee that will coordinate planning for U.S. trade assistance programs
- creating a private sector trade advisory committee that will provide advice on U.S. trade assistance
- developing a biennial joint strategic plan that seeks to improve coordination among agencies, enhance private sector consultation, identify impediments to effective trade assistance, set priorities to focus on the best value, establish performance measures and targets, and provide
estimates for resources to achieve these objectives
- creating a five-year pilot program to promote developing country implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and trade facilitation reforms
Port Security. The Strengthening Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Coordination in Our Ports Act (H.R. 3878, introduced Nov. 2 by Rep. Torres, D-Calif.) seeks to improve information sharing and cooperation in addressing cyber security risks at U.S. ports. Torres noted that during a recent hearing the Port of Long Beach brought up significant cyber security vulnerabilities at U.S. ports, which are “due in part to port landlords not always coordinating with port tenants and also to federal agencies only beginning to consider the impact of a cyber-attack on our maritime infrastructure in its security assessments and strategies.” In response, this bill would require each captain of the port to establish a working group of members of area maritime security advisory committees to facilitate the sharing of information about and development of plans to address port-specific cybersecurity vulnerabilities. In addition, area maritime security plans and facility security plans would have to address cyber threats and vulnerabilities and include mitigation measures to prevent, manage and respond to such threats and vulnerabilities, and maritime security risk assessments would have to include cybersecurity risks to ports and the U.S. maritime border.
Illegal Wildlife Trade. On Nov. 2 the House passed the Global Anti-Poaching Act (H.R. 2494). Bill sponsor Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., said that wildlife trafficking is “now among the most lucrative criminal activities worldwide” and that this bill would respond in the following ways.
- The State Department would have to identify foreign countries determined to be a major source, transit point or consumer of wildlife trafficking products and make a special designation for those countries that have “failed demonstrably” in adhering to international agreements on endangered or threatened species. State would be authorized to withhold certain assistance from countries that have received this designation.
- Wildlife trafficking would be put in the same category as weapons trafficking and drug trafficking, making it a liable offense for money laundering and racketeering. Fines, forfeitures and restitution for wildlife trafficking would have to be transferred to federal conservation and anti-poaching efforts.
- The White House would be encouraged to continue to provide security assistance to African countries for counter-wildlife-trafficking efforts.
- Wildlife enforcement networks would be expanded to help partner countries strengthen coordination and share information and intelligence on illegal wildlife trafficking on a regional basis.
Offshoring. The Stop Outsourcing and Create American Jobs Act (H.R. 3812, introduced Oct. 22 by Rep. McNerney, D-Calif.) would direct the Treasury Department to establish a list of corporate tax haven countries and increase the civil and criminal penalties for corporations found guilty of any transactions involving a tax haven country, including fraud, false claims, and tax evasion, according to a press release from McNerney’s office. This bill would also give federal agencies the authority to request the history of a corporation’s outsourcing practices when applying for government contracts” and “allow the agencies to give preference for contracts to companies that have not outsourced jobs within the last year.
The Outsourcing Accountability Act (H.R. 3811, introduced Oct. 22 by Rep. McNerney) would require any company required to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission to annually disclose to its shareholders and the SEC (a) the number of company employees working domestically compared to the number of employees that company has working outside the United States and (b) the percentage changes in those numbers from the previous year.
Export Promotion. H.R. 3912 (introduced Nov. 3 by Rep. Kuster, D-N.H.) would amend the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 to extend and expand the State Trade and Export Promotion grant program, which provides grants that can be used to support small businesses on foreign trade missions, trade exhibitions or training or with foreign marketing-related issues such as website translation.