Global Steel Crisis Examined. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker co-chaired a two-day hearing last week on the global steel crisis, where U.S. lawmakers called for a better way to prevent foreign suppliers from flooding the U.S. market with subsidized steel. While chairing the first day, Ambassador Froman stated that the Obama Administration is pursuing options to help the U.S. steel sector, including a possible multilateral agreement to rein in global production. USTR released a fact sheet on excess steel capacity, available here.
MTB Momentum. House Ways & Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert (R-Washington) held a hearing on 14 April examining the House MTB reform bill released the day before. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hatch, Ranking Member Wyden and six other Senators introduced a companion MTB reform measure (S. 2794) a day after the House. The bill, the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016, would revise the process for selecting duty suspensions for inclusion in the MTB package by giving the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), rather than Congress, the responsibility for compiling proposed waivers. The measure also would require Congress to consider an MTB package within 90 days of a final report from the ITC.
Senate Trade Enforcement Hearing with CBP Commissioner. On Thursday, 21 April, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hatch will hold a hearing to examine implementation of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (H.R. 644) that President Barack Obama signed in February. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske will testify on his Agency’s efforts to enhance trade facilitation and enforce trade law in accordance with H.R. 644.
Iran Sanctions – Iran Questions U.S. Commitment to JCPOA. Iranian officials are suggesting the United States and EU have not honored commitments made in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saying that “almost nothing” has been done to make the JCPOA functional. Valiollah Seif, Head of Iran’s Central Bank, was in town last week for the World Bank/IMF Spring Meeting. Speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations, Mr. Seif said, “In general, we are not able to use our frozen funds abroad.” In response, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Friday:
“The agreement that’s included in the JCPOA does not include giving Iran access to the U.S. financial system or to allow the execution of so-called U-turn transactions.”