Sunday, November 17, 2013

What We're Covering This Week

Here are some of the events we’ll be covering this week:

             ●          Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the Organization of American States on US relations with Latin America.
             ●          The Washington Space Business Roundtable holds a discussion on the impact of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations with speakers including Commerce Assistant Secretary for Export Administration Kevin Wolf.
             ●          On Tuesday, US Trade Representative Michael Froman and a host of other Administration officials speak at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council annual meeting.
             ●          Mr. Froman also participates in a program sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund.
             ●          In Salt Lake City, TransPacific Partnership chief negotiators meet through the end of the week in hopes of clearing up some outstanding issues.
             ●          Wednesday, the American Enterprise Institute holds a discussion on US-India relations with India Caucus co-chair Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
             ●          The Senate Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific affairs subcommittee holds a hearing on economic engagement in the Asia Pacific region.  Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scot Marciel and Deputy Assistant Commerce Secretary for Global Markets John Andersen are among the witnesses.
             ●          Also Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on the nominations of Sarah Raskin to be deputy Treasury secretary and Rhonda Schmidtlein to be a member of the US International Trade Commission.
             ●          In Tokyo, Acting Deputy US Trade Representative Wendy Cutler leads the US delegation in the fourth round of US-Japan bilateral negotiations being held in parallel to the TransPacific Partnership talks.
             ●          On Thursday, Deputy US Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro speaks to the Caribbean-Central American Action annual conference.
             ●          The Senate Commerce Committee holds a nomination hearing on Arun Kumar to be assistant Commerce secretary for trade promotion and director general of the US Foreign Commercial Services.
             ●          On Friday, Deputy Assistant USTR for WTO and Multilateral Affairs Dawn Shackleford discusses trade facilitation at Georgetown Law’s 2013 Academy of WTO Law and Policy.

See you there.

Mike Froman and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

There is a very popular children’s book by Judith Viorst called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which follows the travails of a little boy to wakes up to a day that starts with gum in his hair and just keeps getting worse.  The reason the book, written over 30 years ago, remains so popular is because we all have those kinds of days.
Last Wednesday was that kind of day for US Trade Representative Michael Froman.  Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that it was a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” for President Obama’s trade policy agenda.
The day started off wrong first thing in the morning with the announcement that WikiLeaks had made public a draft consolidated text of the intellectual property rights chapter of the ongoing TransPacific Partnership negotiations.  The text – even though it really just represents a snapshot of various countries’ positions back in August – is a godsend for TPP opponents because it gives them ammunition in their battle against the trade deal.
It also serves as a reminder to members of Congress that they are mostly being kept out of the loop about the negotiations – to the point that they have to rely on fugitive-from-the-law Julian Assange for their information.
Mr. Froman would argue that members are being consulted about TPP and trade policy in general.  He has repeatedly pointed out – as did his predecessor Ron Kirk – that the Administration has been operating as though the Congressional consultation process of the now expired Trade Promotion Authority was still in place.
But the problem is lawmakers apparently weren’t very happy with that process.
And that’s why the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day got worse.  Later that same day, over two-thirds of House Democrats released a letter saying they will oppose the TPP unless it comes with a new TPA process that gives them much more oversight of trade negotiations.  Then, 10 Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee released their own letter saying they want more rigorous consultation and oversight in TPA.  And a group of House Republicans said they won’t vote for any TPA at all, because they’re not giving up their constitutional jurisdiction over commerce.
Then, just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse for TPA or the TPP on Capitol Hill, the House’s biggest gun on trade weighed in.  Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich) put out his own statement blasting the Administration for failing to engage with Congress on the politically-important issue of whether disciplines on currency manipulation should be included in trade agreements like the TPP.  And he chided President Obama for missing a big opportunity to make the case for TPA when he gave a speech last week in New Orleans that was billed by the White House as a major address on trade.
Mr. Camp is getting annoyed because the attempt he’s been making for months to produce a bipartisan, bicameral TPA bill with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont) is faltering – and he blames the White House for not helping.
Meanwhile, Mr. Camp’s Democratic counterpart, Sandy Levin (Mich), said he will vote against the TPP unless it includes currency provisions.  That position was echoed by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (NC).
Mr. Froman’s response was that all this shows why Congress needs to pass TPA, so lawmakers can tell the Administration what they want in trade agreements.  But lawmakers say they need the President out in front making the case for why TPA is important for growing exports and creating US jobs.  Also, with TPP in the “end game” as Mr. Froman likes to say, it’s kind of too late for Congress to set negotiating objectives for an agreement that’s nearly complete.
So all in all, not a very good day.
In Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, throughout his bad day our hero keeps threatening to pick up and run off to Australia in order to get away from all his troubles.
The day ended yesterday with an announcement from USTR that Mr. Froman was headed to California, with a stop at Disney.
Have a good day.

Mary Berger

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What We're Covering This Week

This is a week for crucial meetings at the World Trade Organization in Geneva as countries try to pull together a package of deliverables for next month’s ministerial in Bali.  Meanwhile, the next round of negotiations on the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership takes place in Brussels.
Here in Washington, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker gives a major address to lay out her priorities for the department.

Here are some of the events we’ll be following:

             ●          Monday, the recently-concluded Canada-European Union trade agreement is discussed by chief negotiator for Quebec Pierre Marc Johnson at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
             ●          The latest TTIP round begins in Brussels.
             ●          On Tuesday, negotiators on the TransPacific Partnership begin an intersessional on rules of origin.
             ●          Tuesday is the day for a crucial WTO Trade Negotiations Committee meeting in Geneva on the status of the Bali package.
             ●          On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a hearing on the status of US-Iran nuclear negotiations.
             ●          The Senate Commerce Committee holds a hearing on manufacturing with Commerce Secretary Pritzker.
             ●          The Center for Strategic and International Studies holds a conference on commercial innovation, with speakers including Assistant US Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation Stanford McCoy.
             ●          On Thursday, Commerce’s Pritzker gives what is being billed as a major address on her priorities for the department.
             ●          Also on Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack talks Farm Bill and other issues at an event sponsored by Politico.
             ●          On Friday, the Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of Customs and Border Protection holds a public meeting.

See you there!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Here's What We're Covering This Week

What We’re Covering This Week......

Here are some of the events we’ll be following this week:
             ●          Monday, the US Chamber of Commerce sponsors a luncheon for Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Bahaa-Eldin who will talk about the state of his country’s economy, along with other issues.
             ●          Also Monday, US Export-Import Bank President Fred Hochberg participates in a video conference briefing for the press arranged by the Foreign Press Center.
             ●          In Geneva, a round of negotiations on the Trade in Services Agreement begin.  The talks are slated to last through November 9.
             ●          On Tuesday, former World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy puts in an appearance at the Brookings Institution, for a program on global challenges.
             ●          Wednesday, Acting Deputy US Trade Representative Wendy Cutler – who is chief US negotiator in ongoing bilateral negotiations with Japan being conducted in parallel to the TransPacific Partnership negotiations – speaks at a Peterson Institute for International Economic program.  She is joined by Norihiko Ishiguro, vice president of international affairs for Japan’s MITI.
             ●          The Farm Foundation Forum sponsors a program on the status of the 2013 Farm Bill.
             ●          Also Wednesday, European Union Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida discusses the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership at the American University Washington College of Law.
             ●          On Thursday, Women in International Trade hosts a Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia Craig Allen for a program on the commercial relationship with Asia.
             ●          Friday, the inter-agency Trade Policy Staff Committee holds a public hearing in preparation for USTR’s annual report to Congress on China’s compliance with its WTO commitments;
             ●          Taiwan Ambassador Pu-Tsung King discusses bilateral relations at a George Washington University program.
             ●          The US Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center holds a global IP summit.

See you there!