North Korea – Money Laundering Designation. Last week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated North Korea as a jurisdiction of “primary money-laundering concern” under Section 311 of the USA Patriot Act on Wednesday. This will allows Washington to further limit North Korea’s access to the U.S. financial system. Under the new designation, non-U.S. banks and other entities are banned from conducting dollar transactions on behalf of North Korea.
TPP – Narrowed Prospect. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal faces increasingly tough rhetoric, especially during the U.S. presidential and congressional election cycle. Many in Washington therefore believe TPP has stalled, at least for this year. The U.S. primary campaigns have focused more on addressing perceived unfair trade practices by other countries, with the public expressing distrust toward further trade liberalization, including the TPP deal. Members of Congress are echoing the hostility seen in their districts and state, especially those facing re-election. With a new Congress and Administration in January, many believe neither will have the appetite to address the TPP agreement in 2017.
The Obama Administration will continue to look for a window to introduce TPP implementing legislation this year. The White House typically drafts the implementing bill text through informal consultations with various congressional committees, including the House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. The draft bill text is then finalized through “mock mark-up” sessions with those committees, providing Members a chance to comment on the draft legislation informally given Trade Promotion Authority guidelines prohibit amendments to the bill. It is not clear whether the Ways & Means or Finance Committees will schedule mock mark-ups or hold hearings on the deal before the November elections. Some believe that if the mock mark-ups do not happen before the election, the window for introducing and possibly advancing the TPP implementing bill narrows significantly, making it nearly impossible for any lame-duck consideration of the trade agreement.
India and Washington. This week, the President will meet with Prime Minister Modi at the White House. The visit will highlight deepening U.S.-India relations in key areas since the President’s visit to New Delhi in January 2015.
Szubin Heads to France, Germany. Acting Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin will visit Paris, France, and Berlin, Germany, from 7-8 June. He is expected to meet with French and German officials, as well as members of the financial services community. Discussions are expected to focus on: the importance of maintaining sanctions pressure on Russia until it fulfills the provisions of the Minsk Agreements; implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran; efforts to combat Iran’s support for terrorism and other destabilizing activity; and strengthen countering terrorist financing (CFT) standards and information sharing.