Nordic Leaders Summit. In a joint statement released after their meeting last Friday, the leaders of the United States, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden pledged to deepen cooperation on international issues related to security and defense; migration and refugees; climate, energy and the Arctic; and economic growth and global development. The Leaders stressed the importance of upholding the European security order and the fundamental principles of international law. The statement also spotlights Russia’s increased “provocative” military actions in the Baltic Sea region and affirms:
“Sanctions against Russia for its actions in eastern Ukraine cannot be lifted until Russia fully implements its Minsk commitments. Our Crimea-related sanctions are also to remain in force until Russia returns this territory to Ukrainian control.”
With respect to trade, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to completing the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations yet this year, noting Denmark, Finland, and Sweden are strong supporters of the TTIP.
TPP Developments – USITC Report Imminent. The USITC is expected to submit its report on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal to Congress this week. Congressional Research Services (CRS) submitted a 91-page report to Congress on the agreement ahead of the USITC’s report, available here. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said last week that the prospects for Congress taking up a TPP implementing bill in the lame-duck session were 50/50.
Senate Hearing on Trade Enforcement. On 11 May, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on customs and trade enforcement, focusing on implementation of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (“Customs bill;” H.R. 644). Customs & Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske testified that his agency will take a tougher stance on trade enforcement. Commissioner Kerlikowske also fielded questions related to the excess global steel glut, affirming that CBP is working with certain countries to address duty evasion with respect to steel shipments.
Defend Trade Secrets Act – Signed into Law. On 11 May, President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (S. 1890) into law. At the signing ceremony, President Obama observed the bipartisan law allows the United States to not only to go after those who are stealing trade secrets through criminal actions, but also through civil actions, and hurt them where it counts: in their pocketbook.