Lawmakers and Stakeholders Deliberate Vietnam's Market Position

January 31, 2024 – A group of senators, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, expressed concerns Vietnam to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo this week, asserting that there is substantial evidence indicating the country has not met legal conditions for market economy status.

The group, which includes eight senators, highlighted reports suggesting a potential favorable determination pledged by the Commerce Department to the Vietnamese government, to the detriment of U.S. industries and workers. Emphasizing Vietnam’s close economic ties with China and the risk of forced labor in supply chains, the senators urged Commerce to consider these factors before granting market economy status, warning that doing so without addressing nonmarket behavior and labor law deficiencies could harm U.S. manufacturing and workers. Read the senators’ letter here.

U.S. to Hold U.S.-China "Commercial Issues Working Group" Meeting

January 31, 2024 – The Commerce Department is planning a meeting in the coming months for a bilateral working group with China to discuss practical trade issues, Politico reports.

According to a Commerce Department official, the U.S. and China agreed to create the new “Commercial Issues Working Group” last fall. The participants will explore ways the government can help address problems that businesses are having. A specific date for the meeting has not been announced yet.

Lawmakers Call on U.S. to Blacklist China-based EV Battery Makers

January 31, 2024 – Two lawmakers, including the Chairman of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, say they’ve uncovered evidence that Ford Motor Company “plans to use technology and software from at least four Chinese companies that supply the same types of IT tools to the Chinese military, North Korean government, and China’s Ministry of Public Security.”

In letters sent to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the lawmakers called on the Biden administration immediately blacklist these four companies that Ford plans to use in its new factory with Chinese battery maker CATL.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) say ““It is indefensible for Ford to use the same cloud integration and data provider that is linked to North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs sanctions evasion activity.”

BIS Calls for C-Suite Attention to Export Risks

January 31, 2024 – In a recent webinar, Matthew Axelrod, the Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS’s) Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement, reportedly stated that C-suite officials need to play a more active role in their companies’ export compliance programs. He urged the need for compliance employees to have regular contact with upper management, given the high stakes for enforcement risk and reputational risk. According to Axelrod, senior executives should “make sure they’re up to speed” and review their current export compliance programs.

Axelrod also argued that the technical nature of export compliance should no longer be a reason for C-suite officials to distance themselves from the process, especially given the increased collaboration among government agencies in investigations, indictments, and sanctions.

Axelrod urged businesses, both large and small, to review and potentially enhance their existing compliance programs to effectively manage national security risks in the current evolving global landscape.

Business Group Urges Expansion of UFLPA Entity List

January 31, 2024 – The Southern Shrimp Alliance has submitted a petition to the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force this week urging the addition of eight Chinese seafood processing companies to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) Entity List. The alliance cites evidence from the nonprofit Outlaw Ocean Project and identifies companies such as Weihai Wendeng Xinghe Food Co. and Yantai Longwin Food Co. as allegedly employing transferred Uyghur labor.

The alliance also called for the inclusion of the seafood processing sector as a high priority for enforcement, emphasizing concerns that Uyghur forced labor is actively sought out by Chinese processors.

The alliance expressed dissatisfaction with the processing of Argentinian and Chilean caught shrimp in China, which is then exported to the U.S. with the origin labeled as Argentina or Chile, calling attention to the lack of transparency in official import statistics.

Read the alliance’s request and the list of companies here.

Lawmakers Push FMC on Proposed Shipping Rule

January 31, 2024 – Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and John Garamendi (D-CA) wrote a letter to Daniel Maffei, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), last Friday, urging the FMC to finalize its proposed rule on demurrage and detention billing requirements as quickly as possible.

The lawmakers emphasize in their letter that the rule is crucial to enhance transparency in billing terms, prevent illegally invoiced chargers, and ensure prompt dispute resolution. Without the rule, American shippers remain vulnerable to problematic billing practices.

The rule is required by the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, co-authored by Johnson and Garamendi in 2022. The lawmakers previously expressed their support for the proposed rule in a letter to the FMC last January.

FMC Commissioner Carl Bentzel indicated in September that the rule was nearing finalization, but as of now, the FMC has not provided a response to the recent request for comment.