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April 5, 2021

This Week in Trade for April 2

Last Week (March 29 — April 2)

China Tariffs Likely to Remain in Place, USTR Says. In a Monday interview with The Wall Street Journal, USTR Katherine Tai indicated that the U.S. section 301 tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on Chinese imports were likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future as U.S. trade officials were unwilling to voluntarily give up trade leverage over China. "Every good negotiator retains his or her leverage to use it," Tai said in the interview. "Every good negotiator is going to keep all of their options open."

USTR Considering Myanmar Trade Sanctions. USTR announced March 29 that it would suspend a 2013 trade investment agreement with Myanmar (also known as Burma), in response to the country's recent brutal military coup, until democracy in that country is restored as well as consider additional trade sanctions. "The United States supports the people of Burma in their efforts to restore a democratically elected government, which has been the foundation of Burma's economic growth and reform," USTR Tai said in a statement. USTR also announced that it was reviewing Myanmar's eligibility for trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences trade regime (GSP trade legislation has lapsed but is expected to be renewed at some point this year).

Vilsack Calls for TPA Renewal. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urged Congress this week to renew the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) law, which is currently set to expire on July 1. TPA permits trade agreements negotiated under its purview to receive expedited, up-or-down votes in Congress without amendments. Speaking at an agriculture-related conference, Vilsack said: "I'm hoping that Congress during the course of this year begins to get serious about resuming and extending Trade Promotion Authority, which will then give us the opportunity to complete negotiations with the U.K. potentially … Or maybe there's now an opportunity for the United States to rejoin what is now the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership." Notably, however, USTR Katherine Tai in her Senate confirmation hearing did not explicitly endorse the extension of TPA when pressed by lawmakers. In a related development, USTR failed to notify Congress this week 90 days prior to the expiration of TPA of its intent to submit either the UK or Kenya Free Trade Agreements for ratification, thus signaling — as expected — that neither of those agreements will be considered by Congress in the near term.


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