TRADE UPDATE

Food & Agriculture
March 29, 2022

By Michael Anderson, Vice President of Trade and Industry Affairs

HIGHLIGHTS

  • USMCA: During a roundtable with government, business, and NGO leaders, Ambassador Tai discussed “troubling developments” within the Mexican energy sector, highlighting increasing state control and decreasing competition within the industry. USTR will continue to monitor the situation in Mexico.
  • Trade Policy Agenda: USTR’s Ambassador Katherine Tai will appear before Congress this week to testify on the President’s 2022 trade policy agenda. The House Ways and Means Committee will hold its hearing on Wednesday, March 30th, and the Senate Finance Committee will hold its hearing on March 31st.
  • U.S. – China: As the bipartisan jobs and competition bill inches forward toward a conference, businesses continue to speak out against proposed AD/CVD legislation, calling on lawmakers to remove the “Eliminating Global Market Distortions to Protect American Jobs Act of 2021” from the bill.
  • U.S. – Brazil: In an unexpected announcement, Brazil suspended import tariffs on ethanol and six other goods. According to the Ministry of Economy, the decision was made as part of a government effort to reduce inflation.
  • U.S. – Russia: Senator Rob Portman (OH-R) wants the U.S. government to increase its squeeze on the Russian economy. Speaking on the Senate floor, Sen. Portman told Commerce to “ensure that Russia is reclassified as a nonmarket economy.”
  • U.S. – U.K.: USTR’s Ambassador Tai and the U.K.’s Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan met to discuss the future of transatlantic trade. During their talks, the two leaders, along with U.S. Secretary Raimondo, reached a new deal on 232 tariffs, allowing historically based sustainable volumes of U.K. steel and aluminum into the U.S. without the application of the Trump era tariffs..

““We need more sanctions. We need to implement them faster. The sanctions have to bite now, not two weeks from now or two months from now. We need to remove all Russian banks’ access to the global financial system. Russia must be financially cut off from the rest of the world if we are to have the effect that we want to have.”

— Senator Rob Portman, speaking on the Senate floor

USMCA

USTR has concerns with Mexico’s energy sector

  • At a roundtable comprised of Ways and Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady (TX-R), Representative Veronica Escobar (TX-D), environmental NGOs, business associations, and U.S. companies, Ambassador Tai called on participants to discuss Mexico’s commitments under USMCA in relation to recent “troubling developments” in the country’s energy sector. “Ambassador Tai began the discussion noting USTR’s serious concerns with the deteriorating trajectory of Mexico’s energy policies, including a series of ongoing actions the Mexican government has taken to increase state control over, and limit competition in, the energy sector.  Ambassador Tai noted that USTR is actively assessing these developments, including the 2021 changes to Mexico’s Electric Power Industry Law,” according to a readout on the event. 
  • The roundtable participants responded by contributing their knowledge and experience on the subject matter, informing the Ambassador about “chronic permitting delays for renewable energy installations and abrupt closures of numerous fuel terminals near the U.S. border.” Ambassador Tai assured the concerned parties that USTR would continue to monitor the situation.
  • Recent developments within the Mexican energy sector continue to cause alarm among U.S. actors as increased state control weakens U.S. “investor confidence in Mexico, at the expense of the environment, restricting U.S. fuel exports, and damaging efforts to enhance North American competitiveness.”

China Trade

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-D)

China competition bill inches forward

  • Congress is aiming to have a compromise on the conference for the bipartisan jobs and competitiveness bill by the end of March. “Senate leadership has made clear they want an initial agreement on the conference structure by the end of this month,” said Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-D) at a Department of Commerce roundtable, “I truly believe that we’re going to get there; there is an intensity now.”
  • Both USICA and America COMPETES aim to enhance American competitiveness in the face of anti-competitive Chinese action through investment in semiconductor chips, supporting supply chains and manufacturing, conducting scientific research, and enforcing targeted anti-China measures. Major differences between the two pieces of legislation include the presence of language regarding Section 301 exclusions and the strictness of GSP eligibility and de minimis criteria, among other variations.

Businesses oppose anti-China bill AD/CVD legislation

  • In a letter addressed to Congress, U.S. industry groups urged lawmakers to remove the “Eliminating Global Market Distortions to Protect American Jobs Act of 2021” from the Bipartisan Innovation Act. The letter argues the provision “would make far-reaching changes to U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty laws without being subject to the thorough Congressional deliberation required for such modifications.” Despite its intention to target China’s non-market practices, the Act would end up imposing taxes on all U.S. trading partners to the expense of American businesses.
  • This legislation would “obstruct the global competitiveness of a broad range of businesses in the United States by prejudicing due process in AD/CVD claims against U.S. importers and ensnaring legitimate trade. It would add to inflationary pressures by raising prices of a wide variety of legitimate imports from industrial inputs to household goods,” stated the letter. Ultimately, the industry groups contend the “Eliminating Global Market Distortions to Protect American Jobs Act of 2021” would create the opposite of its intended effect, making U.S. business less competitive on the global scale instead of more.

Trade Policy Agenda

Finance and Way & Means hearings on trade

  • The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on the Biden Administration’s 2022 trade policy agenda on Wednesday, March 30th. The Senate Finance Committee will hold its hearing on March 31st. USTR’s Ambassador Katherine Tai will appear before both committees as the sole witness.
  • Earlier this year, USTR released the President’s key agenda points, regarding his 2022 trade policy plan. These agenda items include:
    • Standing up for Workers’ Rights
    • Accelerating Decarbonization and Promoting Sustainable Environmental Practices
    • Supporting U.S. Agriculture
    • Bolstering Supply Chain Resiliency
    • Combatting the COVID-19 Pandemic
    • Re-Aligning the U.S.-China Trade Relationship
    • Engaging with Key Trading Partners and Multilateral Institutions
    • Promoting Confidence in Trade Policy Through Enforcement
    • Broad Engagement with Stakeholders to Facilitate Inclusive, Durable Trade Policy and Promote Equity

COVID-19

U.S. trade deficit falls modestly

The international trade deficit shrank $1.0 billion or 0.9% in February after reaching a record high of $107.6 billion in January. Exports of goods for February were $157.2 billion, $1.9 billion more than January exports. Imports of goods for February were $263.7 billion, $0.9 billion more than January imports.

Agriculture Exports

Russia-Ukraine conflict impacts grains trade

  • World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley expressed his fears of the current disruption to international grains trade due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Mr. Beasley warned of global hunger and political instability that will soon erupt from the grains supply shortage, urging EU governments to address the food crisis. “If you think we’ve got hell on earth now, you just get ready,” said Mr. Beasley, according to a Politico report. “If we neglect northern Africa, northern Africa’s coming to Europe. If we neglect the Middle East, [the] Middle East is coming to Europe.

G7 leaders address ag implications of Russia-Ukraine conflict

  • The G7 heads of state met in Brussels to deliberate further responses to addressing the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Among the leaders’ key points of concern was global food security. “We will make coherent use of all instruments and funding mechanisms to address food security and build resilience in the agriculture sector in line with climate and environment goals. We will address potential agricultural production and trade disruptions, in particular in vulnerable countries,” they said. The leaders also called on the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to convene a meeting to address world food security concerns and furthermore called on “all participants of the Agriculture Markets Information System (AMIS) to continue to share information and explore options to keep prices under control, including making stocks available, in particular to the WFP (World Food Programme).” Lastly, the countries committed to “avoid export bans and other trade-restrictive measures, maintain open and transparent markets, and call on others to do likewise, consistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, including WTO notification requirements.”

Supply Chains

Congresswoman Amy Klobuchar (MN-D)

Senate Commerce Committee gives Ocean Shipping Reform Act its seal of approval

  • After amending the legislation to include a new emergency order that gives the Federal Maritime Commission the power to require information sharing from common carriers, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act has been approved by the Senate Commerce Committee. The bill, which aims to ease maritime supply chain issues, “is designed to support the growth and development of U.S. exports and promote reciprocal trade in the common carriage of goods by water in the foreign commerce of the United States.”
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN-D), one of the bill’s cosponsors, commented on the advancement of the the act, “This legislation will help level the playing field for American exporters so they can get their goods to market in a timely manner for a fair price. Now that this bill has passed the Commerce Committee, it is one step closer to being signed into law.” 

Canadian Pacific Railway is up and running

  • The work stoppage at Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) has come to an end. According to a news report from CP, the railway reached an agreement with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) union. “CP is pleased to have reached agreement with the TCRC Negotiating Committee to enter into binding arbitration and end this work stoppage,” said CP President and CEO Keith Creel. “This agreement enables us to return to work effective noon Tuesday local time to resume our essential services for our customers and the North American supply chain.”
  • Ag industry actors are also satisfied with the CP-TCRC compromise. Agri-Pulse reported executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition Mike Steenhoek’s response to the agreement “We are very pleased normal operations are resuming at one of the major transporters of agricultural products. Every additional day of the shutdown would have imposed a compounding negative impact on agriculture and the broader economy.”

U.S. – Brazil

Brazil cuts import tariffs on several products

  • The Brazilian Ministry of Economy, in an effort to reduce inflation, suspended “its 18% tariff on ethanol imports for the rest of 2022,” according to Agri-Pulse. “The goal is to increase the productivity and competitiveness of the Brazilian economy by reducing the costs involved in the import of strategic products,” said the Ministry. But that’s not all. The government of Brazil also decided to cut its import tariffs for ground coffee, margarine, cheese, pasta, sugar, and soybean oil down to zero until the end of the year. 
    • The announcement comes as welcome news for a number of U.S. food and ag industry actors. U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor, and Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper released a joint statement on the tariff reduction, “We are pleased to see the temporary elimination of the 18% tariff, which should improve access for Brazil’s ethanol consumers as well as help meet its own decarbonization goals. This is an issue we have been working on for a number of years in meetings and correspondence with officials from Washington to Brasilia.”
    • “We will continue to pursue a long-term, open and mutually beneficial ethanol trading relationship with Brazil as we work to make this temporary reduction permanent. We look forward to continuing to work closely with USDA and USTR to return to a fair and reciprocal trading relationship with Brazil regarding ethanol.”
    • More details on Brazil decision are contained in a March 24th, USDA Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report.

U.S. – Japan

U.S. and  Japan reach agreement to lessen U.S. beef exports restrictions

  • USTR and USDA announced an agreement between the U.S. and Japan to increase the beef safeguard trigger level under the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement. Ambassador Katherine Tai and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said the new three-trigger safeguard mechanism will make it less likely that U.S. exports will reach the levels that trigger the safeguard provision, which allows Japan to impose higher tariffs. “This agreement is a great win for our two countries that ensures American farmers and ranchers can continue to meet Japan’s growing demand for high-quality U.S. beef,” USTR Katherine Tai said in a statement. 
  • A senior USTR official told reporters on Thursday that the new three-trigger mechanism will “reduce the probability that Japan will impose higher tariffs on U.S. beef in the future.”  The new mechanism “adds a lot of certainty to the market and it allows the United States to meet the demand of Japanese importers without having the risk of the safeguard triggering if, during a particular year, there may be shifts in in market availability from various countries,” the official added. “So, it kind of removes a lot of that uncertainty that existed when we had only the single trigger mechanism.” 
  • According to officials familiar with the agreement, the U.S. must hit all three triggers for Japan to impose higher tariffs on U.S. beef. The specific triggers are as follows:
    • U.S. beef exports must exceed the original beef safeguard trigger level under the U.S.-Japan trade agreement.
    • The aggregate volume of beef imports from the U.S. must exceed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership beef safeguard trigger volume. That level is set to go up to 637,200 metric tons for Japan’s fiscal year 2022. 
    • Third, U.S. beef exports must be larger than U.S. beef exports to Japan from the previous year. 
  • According to USTR officials the new agreement is unlikely to create a major shift in exports, but rather provide greater market certainty. “It’s really just providing greater certainty for traders,” the official said.  

U.S. – Russia

Congressman Rob Portman (OH-R) speaks on Senate floor

Push to reclassify Russia as a nonmarket economy

  • “The Commerce Department should reclassify Russia as a nonmarket economy, making it easier to bring unfair trade cases against them,” said Senator Rob Portman (OH-R) during a speech on the Senate floor. “It is appropriate to reclassify them because up to 70 percent of their economy is now run by the government. Commerce was asked to reclassify in the fall, but retained Russia as a market economy, allegedly, after a Russian delegation pressured the Biden administration. In light of the invasion, Commerce should reconsider that decision and ensure that Russia is reclassified as a nonmarket economy,” Portman said.
  • The senator, who previously served as United States Trade Representative, also called on U.S. lawmakers to facilitate the transfer of military equipment to Ukrainian forces, increase sanctions on Russia, “suspend our tax treaty with Moscow and explore options to remove other tax benefits from Russian businesses,” push the ITC to “bring the full might of U.S. trade remedy law to bear on Russian companies,” and “lead our European allies on fully sanctioning Russia’s energy sector.”

Section 232 Investigations

U.S. – U.K. tariff deal

  • Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Ambassador Katherine Tai announced a “new 232 tariff agreement with the United Kingdom to allow historically-based sustainable volumes of U.K. steel and aluminum products to enter the U.S. market without the application of Section 232 tariffs.” The new agreement on 232 tariffs was reached during the U.K. Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s trip to the U.S., during which officials from the U.S. and U.K. discussed how to strengthen the two countries’ historical trade relationship and turn their efforts towards combatting non-market economic practices. As such, “In addition to novel smelt and cast requirements on aluminum, this deal also requires that any U.K. steel company owned by a Chinese entity must undertake an audit of their financial records to assess influence from the People’s Republic of China government.”
  • In a joint statement, the U.S. and U.K. agreed to continue cooperating on steel and aluminum trade matters through customs cooperation, trade remedy cooperation, monitoring, cooperation on non-market excess capacity and carbon intensity, and an annual review.
  • Details on the new tariff-rate quota (TRQ) system, which will replace the Trump era 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum, can be found here. The new TRQs will be effective starting June 1st, 2022.
Secretary Raimondo and Secretary Trevelyan reveal new 232 tariff agreement

U.S. and EU seek participants for Global Arrangement

  • Speaking to the Roosevelt Institute, Ambassador Katherine Tai explored the potential for the Global Arrangement in tackling climate change and spurring a “race to the top,” regarding labor rights and conditions. But in order to be successful, the U.S. and EU need to attract more countries to participate in their ambitious plan. “To create positive and durable environmental change, our vision requires that other leading countries and economies participate too,” said Ambassador Tai. “This advances President Biden’s climate agenda and demonstrates that trade can and must be both a tool in tackling the climate crisis and a tool for promoting fair competition.”
  • In October of 2021, the U.S. and EU issued a joint statement, announcing the U.S. would ease 232 duties on European steel and aluminum and the trading partners would move forward by working together to create a larger global agreement on sustainable steel and aluminum that “reflects a joint commitment to use trade policy to confront the threats of climate change and global market distortions.” The ambitious agreement has since been dubbed “The Global Arrangement” by politicians.

Section 301 Investigations

USTR Reinstates China 301 Exclusions

  • The Biden administration will reinstate previously granted and extended Section 301 tariff exclusions on 352 products from China, according to last week’s announcement by USTR. The 352 products chosen were out of a total of 549 eligible exclusions. The reinstated product exclusions are being applied retroactively to October 12, 2021 and will expire December 31 of this year. For several months industry groups and congressional lawmakers have criticized the administration’s the reinstatement of tariffs on previously excluded products, inputs required by U.S. manufacturers of finished goods.  The goods covered under reinstated exclusions are set out in a Federal Register notice.

Trump-era China tariffs set for review

  • The first round of Section 301 tariffs imposed under the former Trump Administration on Chinese imports are approaching their four-year mark in July, triggering a congressionally mandated review. The Section 301 tariffs will expire four years from the time they were imposed unless the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has analyzed their effectiveness. That evaluation has to happen within 60 days of their potential expiration.  The Biden Administration has kept the Section 301 tariffs as leverage with China to meet its purchase targets and other commitments in the Phase One trade deal, according to many trade experts.
    • The pending review process may compel the Biden Administration to seriously consider the status of the tariffs and their effectiveness going forward. The review likely provides industry groups and other interested parties a fresh opportunity to pressure USTR into rolling back the trade penalties, or at least expanding its plans to offer exclusions.

Biden Transition

White House formalizes Elaine Trevino’s withdrawal

  • The White House formally withdrew Elaine Trevino’s nomination for the role of USTR Chief Agriculture Negotiator. The announcement formalizes Ms. Trevino’s request to withdraw from consideration for the position, which was reported on last week.  Prior to the official move, Trevino wrote to the President to remove herself from consideration for the role. “It now seems clear that there is no timely path forward to gain Senate confirmation,” she said.
    • Now, the process to find a new candidate for the role must start over again, much to the dismay of agricultural industry stakeholders and lawmakers who are anxious to fill the vacant position.

Indo- Pacific Economic Framework

ASEAN summit postponed

  • President Biden’s plan to host the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) heads of state has been postponed to an undetermined later date. The special summit, which was meant to take place March 29th-30th, has been delayed due to the precedence of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The ASEAN leaders were meant to discuss the IPEF and U.S. interest in the Indo-Pacific region. Instead, President Biden will meet only with the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong. The two leaders will deliberate Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine in addition to the Indo-Pacific matters, supply chains, and other areas of critical interest of the Biden Administration.

Senate hearing on Indo-Pacific trade

  • Senators highlighted key areas of consideration for the IPEF during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on “the Promise and Challenge of Strategic Trade Engagement in the Indo-Pacific Region.” The lawmakers engaged in conversation on digital trade, worker-centered trade, and agricultural trade, among other issues with witnesses Sharon Bomer Lauritsen (Principal, AgTrade Strategies LLC), Emma Llansó (Director, Free Expression Project, Center for Democracy and Technology), Kelly Ann Shaw (Partner, Former Deputy Assistant to The President For International Economic Affairs (2018 – 2019), Hogan Lovells), and Michael Wessel (President, Staff Chair, The Wessel Group, The Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy).
  • Several senators at the hearing expressed their desire for including market access in the IPEF, noting it as a necessary provision to incentive broad participation in the new framework. The lawmakers also posed questions about the lessons learned from past multilateral agreements. The witnesses identified the labor chapter of the USMCA as a prime example of an aptly crafted trade agreement that addressed worker-centered trade. “We need to include a similar concept in the IPEF that defines the [labor] rights and couple it with an enforcement mechanism that is accessible, timely and as possible, facility-specific,” said Mr. Wessel.
  • Regarding agricultural trade with the Indo-Pacific, Ms. Lauritsen shared her expertise with the senators, noting the critical importance of addressing sanitary and phytosanitary measures when crafting the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. She also spoke to the necessity of including dispute settlement measures to ensure the enforceability of the wide-sweeping agreement. Several lawmakers, including Senators Daines (MT-R), Cassidy (LA-R), and Grassley (IA-R) inquired about enhancing trade with India. Ms. Lauritsen noted the potential for a strengthened agricultural trading relationship with India, and other Indo-Pacific nations, if the U.S. takes a seat at the table and leverages market access and tariffs appropriately.

USTR invites comments on IPEF

  • As reported earlier, USTR posted a request for comments on the proposed Fair and Resilient Trade pillar of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. The request, which will close a month after its publication date, aims to gauge “U.S. interests and priorities, in order to develop U.S. negotiating objectives and positions and identify potential partners.” In line with the Biden Administration’s objective of establishing worker-centered trade, the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) invites comments on the issues “USTR should address in the negotiations” of the trade pillar of the IPEF.  USTR added in its notice, “the Administration is not seeking to address tariff barriers.” The deadline for submission is April 11.

U.S. – EU

Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition

TTC is the way forward for U.S.-EU trade

  • During a European Parliament Committee on International Trade meeting, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager spoke against restarting U.S.-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks, opting to continue to utilize the Trade and Technology Council (TTC) as the preferred vehicle for strengthening U.S.-EU trade ties. “Even in a deep freezer, there is a limit as to how long you can eat it,” Ms. Vestager said referring to the TTIP, “If it has been there for a very long time, don’t. It will not be good for you.” If both sides decide they want to “deepen trade relations,” the best plan would be to embark on “a completely new” process, she said, according to a Politico write up on the meeting.
  • The European Commissioner told Committee on International Trade members that several concrete deliverables are currently in the works for the next TTC meeting, which will take place on May 15th-16th in France. Ms. Vestager also suggested one goal of the next TTC meeting should be to issue a statement on the current geopolitical state of the world, referring to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. “We need to project that our economic, political, security alliance is now brought to the next level. That should be what we strive for,” she said.

U.S. – U.K. Trade

Ambassador Tai and Secretary Trevelyan meet at the Port of Baltimore.

The future of Atlantic trade

  • USTR’s Ambassador Katherine Tai and the U.K.’s Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan travelled to the Port of Baltimore to commence their Dialogue on the Future of Atlantic Trade. During the first day of their meetings, the officials discussed the importance of strengthening the U.S.-U.K economic relationship. Ambassador Tai also touched on the Biden Administration’s infrastructure ambitions, highlighting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Following their first discussion and tour of the Port of Baltimore, Ambassador Tai and Secretary Trevelyan held a roundtable with labor and business stakeholders to deliberate “how the United States and United Kingdom could harness their resources to promote inclusive, fair, and responsible growth in a way that benefit domestic and global economies.”
  • By end of their trip to Baltimore, Ambassador Tai and Secretary Trevelyan agreed to jointly tackle 9 major agenda items. These items include their shared commitment to:
    • “Reestablish the UK-US SME dialogue to continue to bring together SMEs from both sides of the Atlantic to identify ways to further support trade and investment; 
    • Harness the benefits of an open and competitive digital economy, with appropriate safeguards for workers, consumers and businesses;
    • Build on the G7’s first ever set of Digital Trade Principles during UK presidency, such as working towards the digitization of paper-based customs and other border agencies requirements to cut red tape;
    • Build strong, durable supply chains that can withstand future global shocks;
    • Support the protection of labor rights and the environment, with one another and our other trading partners;
    • Tackle forced labor globally;
    • Create incentives through trade to transition to a decarbonized economy and protect our environment;
    • Advance trade policy to consider gender, underserved and marginalized communities as workers, consumers, entrepreneurs, and producers; and 
    • Address third party market-distorting practices.”
  • Ambassador Tai and Secretary Trevelyan will meet again for their second U.S./U.K. Dialogue on the Future of Atlantic Trade in the U.K. in late April.

WTO

Members oppose Belarus’ WTO accession

In a joint statement, 14 WTO member countries opposed Belarus’ bid for WTO membership. “We condemn Belarus for its complicity in Russia’s aggression, which is incompatible with the values and principles of the WTO and of a just rules-based order. For these reasons, we have concluded that Belarus is unfit for WTO membership. We will not further consider its application for accession,” they stated. The communication is supported by the delegations of Albania, Australia, Canada, the EU, Iceland, Japan, South Korea, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Ukraine, the U.K., and the U.S.

DG Okonjo-Iweala speaks at Global Supply Chain Forum

Global Supply Chain Forum

  • The WTO held a Global Supply Chains Forum with the goal of identifying the causes of and solutions to current international supply chain disruptions. “Much like the WTO itself, our supply chain infrastructure needs to remain fit for purpose,” said Director-General Okonjo-Iweala at the event, “It is clear that equipping our supply chain infrastructure to cope better with sudden changes demands action – and investment, both public and private.” Participants of virtual forum provided several suggestions for supply chain-related issues. “Some private sector representatives suggested that government actions which restrict the flow of goods, services and data were also contributing to sclerotic performance of global supply chains. Several participants also complained that smaller companies had less bargaining leverage and were subsequently disadvantaged in transport and logistics markets,” according to a news release on the meeting. Other participant suggestions include implementing market and investment diversification as well as “deeper investment in digital technology — including blockchain and robotics.”

MC12 meeting still on calendar despite Russian invasion of Ukraine

  • The WTO continues to make preparation for convening the 12th ministerial conference on June 12th-15th, despite escalating criticism of Russia and calls for the WTO to expel or curtail the country’s participation in the global trade body.  In a strongly worded statement issued recently, the U.S., EU, and 12 other allies threatened they “will take any actions, as WTO Members, that we each consider necessary to protect our essential security interests.”
    • The 14 countries said their proposed actions “may include actions in support of Ukraine, or actions to suspend concessions or other obligations with respect to the Russian Federation, such as the suspension of most-favored-nation treatment to products and services of the Russian Federation.” The signatories also indicated that “in light of Belarus’ material support to the actions of the Russian Federation, we consider that its accession process is suspended and will not participate in any accession-related work.”