Below are highlights from recent discussions between the U.S. and various trading partners.
At the third meeting of the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue, the two sides noted ongoing efforts to support the reinforcement and expansion of supply chains in the semiconductor, information and communications technology, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals sectors and to boost the efficiency and digitization of trade procedures along their shared border.
They also pointed to their continuing work to advance projects related to border infrastructure, facilitating lawful cross-border trade and travel, and border security (including piloting a model port for cutting-edge inspection technologies), and reduce or eliminate counterfeit goods and pirated content from supply chains.
The U.S. and 31 other countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean agreed to establish the Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation and adopt a plan of action for it that will initially focus on promoting greater scientific and technological cooperation. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that as part of this effort participants will strengthen free and open maritime trade, foster environmentally-sound fisheries and fishing practices, and develop resilient coastal economies.
Labor issues were a dominant theme at the seventh meeting of the bilateral trade and investment cooperation forum agreement council. The U.S. emphasized combatting violence against workers and union organizers and ensuring a simplified and impartial trade union registration process. It also encouraged Bangladesh to extend freedom of association and collective bargaining to the country’s special economic zones and export processing zones and to dedicate more resources to labor inspections and enforcement.
On a separate issues, the U.S. discussed actions needed to address concerns with Bangladesh’s ranking as one of the top source economies for counterfeit clothing.
The U.S. noted progress in several areas, including (1) improvements in the draft version of Bangladesh’s Data Protection Act that remove criminal penalties, restrict the scope of the law to personal data, and limit its application to firms that process personal data within the country, and (2) the removal of Bangladesh’s longstanding fumigation requirement for U.S. cotton exports.
At the 14th meeting of the bilateral trade and investment framework agreement council, the U.S. encouraged Sri Lanka to improve transparency and efficiency in approving foreign direct investment, implement more robust anti-corruption measures, consult with relevant stakeholders in drafting labor law reforms, provide greater market access for U.S. exports of agricultural products, and advance the use of biotechnology.
Sri Lanka urged better access to the U.S. market for its high-value and value-added agricultural products, such as organic spices and concentrates, and the extension of Generalized System of Preferences eligibility to apparel, textiles, and leather products.
Other topics of discussion included how the U.S. can assist in the development of Sri Lanka’s digital economy, gem and jewelry industry, floriculture, and boat-building sector.
At the second meeting of the bilateral trade and investment framework agreement council, Paraguay highlighted its progress in fulfilling its commitments under the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitate Agreement, including establishing a mechanism for advance publication and consultations on international trade issues. It also noted the renewal of its T-Fast program until 2025 and implementation of an electronic phytosanitary certification system.
Paraguay emphasized its interest in exporting raw beef products to the U.S. (which could happen soon given that the USDA’s regulatory approval process is underway), as well as sugar and non-traditional products, and in receiving GSP benefits.
U.S. priorities included addressing corruption risks and intellectual property protection in Paraguay.
The presidents of the U.S., Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – the so-called C5+1 partnership – said they intend to work toward permanent normal trade relations status in the U.S. for these five Central Asian countries. They also plan to take “significant steps” to enhance alternative trade routes and facilitate new connections among U.S. and Central Asian businesses. Further, the U.S. said its Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment will evaluate opportunities to scale infrastructure investments to accelerate economic development, energy security, and connectivity in the Trans-Caspian trade route, or “Middle Corridor.”
At a U.S.-Pacific Islands Forum summit meeting, U.S. commitments included (1) launching a new demand-driven initiative to diversify trade opportunities in the region and increase competition to drive economic growth, (2) supporting regional partners’ ability to strengthen port security and customs, counter-trafficking, and anti-money laundering efforts, (3) training regional customs officials on clearing relief items in response to emergency situations, and (4) helping to expand and develop systems to help regional banks comply with international anti-money laundering requirements.
Copyright © 2023 Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A.; WorldTrade Interactive, Inc. All rights reserved.