Trade Agreement Agenda Advances amid Tariffs

Trade Agreement Agenda Advances amid Tariffs

This piece was originally published in the December 2018 issue of electroindustry.

Craig Updyke Director, Trade and Commercial Affairs

The Trump Administration’s successful conclusion of negotiations September 30 on a United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) hastened its October 16 notifications to Congress of intent to enter into new trade talks with the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

All four actions set clocks in motion—60 days until USMCA could be signed and 90 days before proposed new negotiations may begin. While reviewing the USMCA terms, NEMA is consulting with Members on objectives for the EU, UK, and Japan talks as well as navigating tariffs on imports of steel, aluminum, and Chinese-made products and components.

Targeting Economic Espionage

On November 1, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray announced a broad new initiative to combat criminal economic activity by China.

“The Chinese government is determined to acquire American technology, and they’re willing [to] use a variety of means to do that—from foreign investments, corporate acquisitions, and cyber intrusions to obtaining the services of current or former company employees to get inside information,” said FBI Director Wray.

“If China acquires an American company’s most important technology—the very technology that makes it the leader in a field—that company will suffer severe losses, and our national security could even be impacted. We are committed to continuing to work closely with our federal, state, local, and private sector partners to counter this threat from China,” he concluded.

A senior Justice Department official told NEMA that the primary tool of the interagency initiative is prosecution of individuals and companies in cases of trade-secret theft. The efforts extend to prosecutions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Foreign Agents Registration Act as well as implementation with the Treasury Department of the new Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, which expands the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.

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