Tai’s “Engagement Era” in Asia

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With help from Doug Palmer and Ari Hawkins

– The Biden administration’s trade chief met with economic ministers from across Southeast Asia over the weekend. This is part of the United States’ “era of engagement” on trade.

— G20 trade ministers meet in Indonesia this week as global economies continue to grapple with high inflation, a congested supply chain and other pandemic-era disruptions.

— The International Trade Commission voted against the imposition of duties on imports of steel nailsconcluding that the US producers were not at real risk of material injury.

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TAI ALL USTR “ENGAGEMENT ERA” IN CAMBODIA: Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative co-led consultations in Siem Reap, Cambodia over the weekend with his counterparts from the 10 countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

According to a joint statement, economy ministers agreed to spend the next year working on trade issues related to sustainable energy and good regulatory practice. They will also pursue “meaningful, substantial and mutually beneficial outcomes” in a strategic partnership agreement the leaders are expected to adopt at a summit in November.

Tai’s office is in its “era of engagement,” she said Sunday, as the Biden administration forges closer ties with Asian economies — not just through consultations with ASEAN, but also by its recently launched Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and its first negotiations. on a new commercial initiative with Taiwan.

“We all recognize that right now is really a huge opportunity and a need for our economies to come together to find ways to cooperate and help each other for a robust economic recovery,” Tai told reporters this week. weekend. .

The United States is particularly interested in Southeast Asia, not only for its booming economy, but also for its potential position as a security counterweight to China.

But China is also interested: The United States is not alone in its growing interest in Southeast Asia, Tai acknowledged. Beijing has sought to strengthen its economic and security relations in the region, both through its own agreements with neighboring countries and through existing pacts, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I know from talking to my counterparts in Beijing that they value those relationships as well. And Beijing is also engaged economically and more broadly in this region, and I think that just speaks to how important this region is and how close the world’s major economies are to help unlock the potential here,” Tai said. .

Speaking of China: Tai didn’t say whether changes were imminent for U.S. tariffs on China, but she chafed at the suggestion that the measures were meant to penalize China. The Trump-era duties are meant to rebalance an unfair trade relationship, not to punish China’s economy, she said.

“The United States is not punishing China with tariffs, and I think that’s a really important point to make because tariffs are really a trade tool. They can be used in different ways,” Tai said.

WHAT WE ARE LOOKING AT NOW: Tai is traveling to Bali, Indonesia, where she will spend much of this week meeting with G20 trade ministers. Hot topics are expected to be global inflation, the pandemic recovery and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, as trade officials seek to align their economic priorities ahead of a meeting of heads of state in November.

Wednesday: Tai will host an informal ministerial dialogue on WTO dispute settlement reform alongside US Deputy Trade Representative María Pagán.

US AND PARAGUAY HOLD FIRST TIFA TALKS: Trade officials from the United States and Paraguay gathered in Washington last week for the first meeting of the Trade and Investment Council since the countries signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in March last.

The wide-ranging talks saw countries agree to make it easier for businesses looking to trade across borders by looking at ways to cut red tape, lower customs fees and align regulations, according to the ‘USTR. They also agreed on a plan to resolve disputes over intellectual property protections, and Paraguay said it hoped to comply with requirements to export raw beef to the United States by next year.

Next chat: The representatives will meet again in the capital of Paraguay, Asunción, in 2023.

ITC NIXES NEW TASKS FOR STEEL NAILS: The U.S. International Trade Commission voted 5-0 on Friday to stop the Commerce Department from imposing countervailing duties on steel nails from India, Oman, Turkey and Sri Lanka in a case filed by Mid Continent Nails in Missouri.

The ITC said no duty was necessary because imports from India, Oman and Turkey did not cause material injury, or even threaten material injury, to US producers.

The panel also voted to terminate the Sri Lanka investigation due to the negligible volume of subsidized trade found by the Commerce Department.

Next votes: Mid Continent also requested anti-dumping duties on imports of steel nails. The ITC will vote in October on the Turkish part of this anti-dumping case and in December on the rest of the countries.

COMPANIES PROTEST LOOMING QUARTZ DUTY HIKE: Companies involved in an anti-dumping case on quartz surface products from India are complaining about unfair treatment by the Commerce Department in a case the Wall Street Journal editorial page described as “Trade bureaucrats have gone wild.” Quartz products are primarily used for countertops, raising concerns about the impact Commerce’s decision will have on homebuyers.

The department conducted an administrative review of the anti-dumping duties originally imposed in 2019. Antique Marbonite, one of two Indian companies Commerce uses to set the rate for other exporters, mistakenly filed its submission hours late. , according to Paul Nathanson, Senior Manager at Bracewell, who works for several importers and distributors of Indian quartz surface products.

As punishment, the Commerce Department issued a preliminary ruling in June to raise the tariff rate on antique marbonite from about 5% to 323%, Nathanson said.

The wider impact: The Department of Commerce granted the other Indian company, PSL, a zero duty rate. But the average between zero and 323% is 161% and that’s the rate Commerce plans to impose on 51 other Indian exporters, “even though the agency acknowledges that these companies have done nothing wrong”, Nathanson said in an email to Morning Trade.

Because the administrative review covers the period from December 2019 to May 2021, importers face over $300 million in retroactive duties if the interim rate becomes final. The higher rate would also apply to future imports of the quartz product from India.

The Commerce Department did not respond to a request for comment.

GREEN INDUSTRY CHANGES INDUSTRIAL CAPITAL: States like California and Colorado dominated manufacturing in the 1990s, thanks in part to generous trade incentives used to bolster regional production. But a DataPoint analysis released by POLITICO on Friday indicates that Western states are no longer leading the nation in subsidy offers as the energy industry continues to expand. According to data from the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, state-level legislation, which includes direct and indirect business financing and tax incentives, is most concentrated in the 11 Northeastern states.

– The United States must strengthen its export control regime for high-tech products, says White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, reports POLITICO.

– Tesla plans to move battery cell production to the United States to take advantage of tax incentives from the new Clean Energy Act, writes POLITICO.

– Ukraine has stopped publicly asking for high-end US weapons, but behind the scenes the push hasn’t stopped for weapons that could turn the tide of the war, POLITICO reports.

— The rising value of the US dollar is a problem for the global economy, according to the Wall Street Journal.

– Leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have agreed to take steps to increase the use of national currencies in trade between their countries, according to Reuters.

THAT’S ALL FOR THE MORNING TRADE! See you soon! In the meantime, send a note to the team: [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow us @POLITICOPro and @Morning_Trade.

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