July 28, 2021

Washington Wire: President Trump Announces Phase One Deal with China; Suspends Tariff Increase


President Trump Announces Phase One Deal with China; Suspends Tariff Increase  

After meeting with Chinese officials on October 11, 2019, President Trump announced his administration had reached a limited Phase I trade deal with China, largely maintaining the status quo and preventing future escalation. While negotiators have yet to put pen to paper, both sides hope to have a document ready for signature by President Trump and President Xi of China at the Nov.12-14 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings. Both sides indicate if the sign Phase I, they will immediately move forward negotiating a broader Phase II deal.
President Trump announced he would suspend the tariff increase of 25 percent to 30 percent on over 7,000 Chinese goods slated to take effect October 15. The President, however, stated he was undecided about implementing another round of tariffs on $125 billion of mostly consumer goods from China set to take effect on December 15th. If the Phase I deal is not signed next month, those deals will likely still go into place. The agreement falls short of the grand bargain One Voice has long called for but does begin to address Intellectual Property theft, though not forced technology transfer or state subsidies by China. Conflicting reports have emerged over whether the U.S. will lift its designation of China as an illegal currency manipulator, an action taken over the summer and supported by One Voice. Sources indicate the Chinese politburo is less enthusiastic about the deal and not fully committed to the structural changes long sought by manufacturers. One Voice will continue to work with government negotiators to address the structural changes necessary in China to level the manufacturing playing field.



U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement Update
On October 7, congressional leaders, including House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), travelled to Mexico for two days of meetings with Mexican officials and workers over the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Specifically, the group is seeking final assurances that Mexico’s government will implement labor reforms necessary to obtain support of the USMCA from Congress. Meanwhile, House Democrats and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have conducted closed door meetings these past few weeks over labor and environmental guarantees within the agreement. Sources indicate the parties are getting close to reaching an agreement on these issues and many lawmakers believe the Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bring the USMCA to the floor for a House vote before Thanksgiving, with Committee action expected in the coming weeks.



Government Agencies Mandated to Seek Public Comments for Guidance Documents
Last week, President Trump issued two Executive Orders requiring government agencies to seek public input when issuing key “guidance documents.” Before issuing these two Executive Orders, government agencies used guidance documents to secretly interpret regulations. This lack of transparency and accountability led to numerous abuses under the Obama administration as agencies could immediately impose major changes to government policy without following administrative procedures.
To combat this problem, the first Trump administration order requires government agencies to seek public comments on the most important guidance they issue and allow the American public to ask agencies to withdraw guidance they believe is wrong. The second order prohibits agencies from implementing rules they have not made publicly known in advance. Furthermore, this order also directs agencies to offer opinion letters requested by individuals and businesses who want to make sure they are correctly complying with the rule. This marks an important victory for One Voice that has long argued for additional transparency in the rulemaking process, particularly at the EPA and OSHA.



House Democrats to Release Higher Education Bill This Week
Sources on Capitol Hill indicate that Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives will introduce their legislation to update the Higher Education Act (HEA), which authorizes the federal government to provide grants, loans, and other financial assistance to students seeking education and training. As earlier reported, One Voice is actively working with members of Congress to update the HEA to treat industry apprenticeships, credentials, and certifications, equally as two and four year degrees when providing financial support from Washington.
Release of the legislation could trigger action on one of the few remaining bipartisan issues in Washington – Career and Technical Education. While the House is on schedule to likely move an HEA reauthorization in the Spring, the Senate Education Committee is moving much more aggressively. One Voice members have mobilized to call on Congress to act in the government spending bills expected to pass in November and include language expanding Pell Grants and improving Career and Technical Education opportunities for manufacturers.