WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) announced the appointment of Nicholas J. Novak as the agency’s Inspector General. In his 35-year career, Novak spent nearly 20 years holding various positions within PBGC’s Office of Negotiations and Restructuring (ONR) and the agency’s Office of the Inspector General. Novak’s ONR portfolio included supervising aspects of the Multiemployer Pension Insurance Program. He most recently served as PBGC’s Acting Inspector General since April 2020.
“I know that Nick shares my commitment to ensuring PBGC and everyone at the agency operate ethically and effectively,” PBGC Director Gordon Hartogensis said. “I look forward to continuing our work together as he takes on the role of Inspector General.”
As Inspector General, Novak will continue to oversee independent audits and investigations, provide guidance to improve the agency’s business practices, and execute procedures to prevent and detect fraud. Novak reports directly to PBGC’s Board of Directors and Congress to help improve and maintain the integrity of PBGC’s programs and operations.
A proven public servant, he previously worked at the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Internal Revenue Service, the Government Publishing Office, and in the private sector.
He is a certified public accountant and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Maryland.
About PBGC PBGC protects the retirement security of over 35 million American workers, retirees, and beneficiaries in both single-employer and multiemployer private-sector pension plans. The agency’s two insurance programs are legally separate and operationally and financially independent. PBGC is currently responsible for the benefits of about 1.5 million people in failed pension plans and receives no taxpayer dollars. The Single-Employer Insurance Program is financed by insurance premiums, investment income, and assets and recoveries from failed single-employer plans. The Multiemployer Insurance Program is financed by insurance premiums and investment income. For more information, visit PBGC.gov.
Jan 12th, U.S. Department of Commerce and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism of the Kingdom of Bahrain signed of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to Enhance U.S.-Bahrain Trade through the Establishment of a U.S. Trade Zone (USTZ) in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The MoU was signed by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and the Minister of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism in the Kingdom of Bahrain H.E. Zayed R. Alzayani.
“The Kingdom of Bahrain has been, and continues to be, an important strategic and trade partner of the United States, maintaining stability and ensuring the free flow of commerce in the Gulf. The Department of Commerce remains committed to our deep partnership with the Kingdom,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “This MoU is but one such example of our mutual commitment and close relationship, and the International Trade Administration is committed to working with the Kingdom of Bahrain toward the realization of this unique free trade zone.”
The Establishment of a USTZ in the Kingdom of Bahrain will foster enhanced economic connectivity, trade, and industrial cooperation and will help boost bilateral trade between the two countries. The United States and the Kingdom of Bahrain will promote the USTZ as a regional trade, manufacturing, logistics, and distribution hub for U.S. companies in Bahrain, markets in the Gulf Cooperation Council, and beyond.
The USTZ will allow U.S. businesses multimodal access to an area ideal for crossdocking activities, end-to-end specialized customs solutions, and fast track operation for the purpose of exporting via Khalifa bin Salman Port, Bahrain International Airport, King Fahad Causeway or any future customs posts created by the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The United States and the Kingdom of Bahrain are longstanding partners with a strong record of economic and security cooperation. The United States established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Bahrain in 1971 and designated Bahrain a Major Non-NATO Ally in 2002. The U.S-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (FTA) entered into force in 2006, generating additional commercial opportunities for both countries. In 2019, bilateral merchandise trade reached $2.45 billion, with an additional $1.5 billion of trade in services (2019 figures).
The United States of America (U.S.) and Singapore have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to deepen economic cooperation and extend trade financing and investment support to companies in Singapore and the U.S. The MOU was signed by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.
“The U.S. and Singapore have enjoyed more than fifty years of official partnership since we established diplomatic ties in 1966,” said Secretary Ross. “This MOU will help Singapore importers finance the purchase of U.S. exports and support Singapore investors looking at opportunities in the U.S.”
Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said, “As like-minded partners, Singapore and the U.S. are committed to supporting our businesses as they respond to the global economic disruptions caused by COVID-19. Through this MOU, we will facilitate company investments into Singapore and the U.S., and help businesses access more trade financing facilities. We also look forward to catalysing greater trade and investment flows between the U.S., Singapore, and Southeast Asia, and enabling our companies to continue trading and accessing opportunities in these challenging times.”
The U.S. and Singapore are like-minded and longstanding partners with a strong record of economic cooperation. Recognising the significant global tightening of credit following the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the MOU aims to enhance the availability of and access to trade financing options for U.S. and Singapore companies. The MOU will also facilitate bilateral trade in goods and services to enhance our respective regions’ growth opportunities. In addition, the MOU seeks to strengthen cooperation on investment promotion and provide opportunities for both countries to explore the use of technology (e.g. FinTech) to address new trade financing and investment challenges.
The renewable, two-year MOU will be overseen by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry. The MOU will also be supported by implementing agencies, including the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., the U.S. Commercial Service in Singapore, and Enterprise Singapore.
The MOU is the latest tangible result of the robust economic and investment partnership between the U.S. and Singapore. The U.S. is Singapore’s largest foreign investor, while Singapore was the fourth-largest Asian investor in the U.S. in 2019. Both countries are committed to working together towards a stronger post-COVID-19 economic recovery. Our continued partnership will help to facilitate bilateral trade and investments and ensure that our companies are well positioned to tap into growth opportunities in our respective markets and regions.
Nov 21st – Beverly Hills, CA -– The 2 nd Annual Asian Film Festival Los Angeles (AFF ) 2020 announced the winners of the festival’s 2020 film competitions today at the Maybourne Beverly Hills Los Angeles. With the festival following COVID-19 pandemic, the festival did not host a live Golden Diamond Awards ceremony this year, with a virtual awards ceremony. The 2nd Golden Diamond Awards of AFF Los Angeles featured twenty competitive categories: Feature, Foreign Language Film, Documentary, Animation, Short Film, Documentary Short, Student Short Film, Director, Director Short Film, First Director, Director Student, Script, Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Music, Actor, Actress, Child Actor and Child Actress.
The Asian Film Festival Los Angeles Chairman Holmes Stoner Said, “This year’s program featured so many wonderful films, and we are grateful to our jurors for selecting our award-winning films, We thank and congratulate all of the filmmakers who shared their films with the festival this year and look forward to great things from each and every one of them.”
“While we are not yet able to celebrate these incredible films at their premieres, we are so proud to celebrate them in partnership with our generous team through our 2020 Golden Diamond Awards virtual ceremony” said Festival Executive Chairman Jason Quin. “ AFF Los Angeles chose to recognize a daring, innovative, entertaining, diverse group of films and filmmakers, and the Festival is pleased to honor all of them with our first ever virtual awards ceremony at this particular moment in 2020.” “”We are also grateful for the involvement and support of filmmakers from dozens of countries and regionesas to join with AFF work together to meet the novel COVID-19 pandemic challenge.”
The 2nd annual Golden DIamond Awards were unlike in our ceremony history in this age of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of filmmakers incuding directors, actors and crew from different countries and regions congratulated AFF via video. The Asian Film Festival Los Angeles 2020 was originally set to take place on Nov 1st -14th, however it will be rescheduled due to the pandemic.
For more information on all of the 2020 Asian Film Festival Los Angels competition winners, visit AFF offical website and check out the full list of winners below:
The list of confirmed winners is as follows：
Best Feature: “Stowaways”, USA Best Foreign Language Film: “A Touch of Spring”, Canada, Best Documentary: “Heart of Gold”, Thailand Best Animation: “ Let’s Eat”, USA Best Short Film: “Song of the Crickets”, Swtizerland Best Documentary Short: “Paerntal Guiidance Suggested”, USA Best Student Short Film: “What We’re Owed”，Australia Best Director: “Fire on the Ridge”, USA Best Director Short Film: “À La Carte”, Vietnam Best First Director: “Magic Kingdom”, Hong Kong China Best Director Student: Eris Zhao, “Landing”, USA Best Script: “Whispers In The Wind”, Indonesia Best Cinematography: “Rendezvous”, Japan Best Editing: “Navras”, Germany Best Production Design: “Between”, Czech Best Music: “Depth of Pyaar”, India Best Actor: “Father And Son”, China Best Actress: “Homa And Sisters”, Iran Best Child Actor: “Catharsis”, Sri Lanka Best Child Actress: “Bringing Schools To Where There Are None!”, Italy
Nov 7th- Beverly Hill, The 2nd Annual Asian Film Festival Los Angeles Golden Diamond Awards, hosted by AFF Committee announced nominees list on Saturday Nov. 7th 2020, in Maybourne Beverly Hill Los Angeles. The virtual festival ceremony will on official website and multimedia Channel.
AFF Hosts Virtual Asian Film Festival during COVID-19 Pandemic release with the continuing spread of the coronavirus, Asian Film Festival Committee reached out to the trade community virtually to keep industry engaged when it hosted its virtual Asian Film Festival Los Angeles 2020 between November 1st -14th 2020.
“In the midst of this global pandemic and the vast challenges we’re all navigating, I really believe coming together in this way shows our collective commitment to continue our persistent, ongoing dialogue and candid discussions about the most pressing issues facing AFF and you, the film community,” said AFF Commissioner Chairman Holmes Stoner in his welcoming address on Nov 7th 2020.
Due to the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2nd Annual Golden Diamond Awards will not have a live audience or a red carpet. The Golden Diamond Awards and its production teams will adhere to safety guidelines.
Here is the list of the 2nd Annual Golden Diamond Awards of Asian Film Festival Los Angeles 2020 nominees:
Best Feature: “Stowaways”, USA “Irumbu”, India, “In My Dream”, Turkey “Depth of Pyaar”, Canada “Present Still Perfect”, Thailand
Best Foreign Language Film: “A Touch of Spring”, Canada, “Like Father And Son”, China “Execution Day”, Azerbaijan “Present Still Perfect”, Thailand “MEKONG 2030”, Lao
Best Documentary: “Twinkle Dammit!” USA ”More Than Miyagi” USA ”Dream In Silence”, China “Two Flage”, India “Heart of Gold”, Thhailand ‘The Six’, China
Best Animation: “ Let’s Eat”, USA “The Tale of Cuoi 2020”, Vietnam “ Sliced Fruit”, USA “ Take A Breach”, China “My Tagalong”, Canada
Best Short Film: “Song of the Crickets”, Swtizerland “Dr. Daddy”, USA “Hello From Taiwan”, USA “I Want To Be”, Thailand “The Kestrels”, Hungary
Best Documentary Short: “Rising Silenceleesa Gazi”, Bangladesh “Wuqiao Circus”, China ”The Khe Sanh Peace Garden”, Vietnam “Paerntal Guiidance Suggested”, USA “Lockdown Are We Safe”, Bangladesh
Best Director: Nancy Hamilton , “ Fire on the Ridge”, USA Samuel Kiehoon Lee, Gyopo”, Canada Xiao Dan He, “A Touch of Spring”, Canada Like Father and Son”, China Kevin Derek, “More Than Miyagi”, USA
Best Director Short Film: Weisheng Yu, “Lust Day”, China Tom Hand, “ The Shadow Boxer”, UK Haruna Tanaka, “Lifelike”, Japan Jay DO, “A La Carte”, Vietnam Mackey Lai Loke Yee,” The Cloud is Still There”, Malaysia
Best First Director: “Cacti And Weed”, Canada Rayner Wang, “Circus Sam”, Japan Leesa Gazi, “Rising Silence”, Bangladesh Avdjin Kutakis , “Case 0013”, Russia Dax Phelan, “Jasmine”, USA
Best Director Student: Eris Zhao, “ Landing”, USA Kelvin Zhu, “ Datura”, Canada Beibei Xu, “Lotus”, USA Wenqi NI, “ Daemon”, USA Jiawei Cheng, “ Under The Flag”, USA
Best Script “ Chusei (Allegiance) “, USA “Sleep No More”, India “ Whispers In The Wind”, Indonesia “ Klaus; Witch Killer”, USA “ Starpeople 2007”, USA
Best Cinematography: “Apart”, China Hong Kong “Sholler’s Archive”, Azerbaijan “The Six”, China “JASMINE”, USA “MORE THAN MIYAGI”, USA
Best Student Short Film: “The Speech”, USA “The Shadow Boxer”, UK “ Bathhouse Drummer”, China “ In”, South Korea “What We’re Owed”，Australia
Best Editing: “Invisible Man In The Mist”, China Knock And Rock ( Thatrom Thookrom )”, India “Sky Bloossom Feature”, USA “Alan”, Spain “Sonata”, USA
Best Production Design, ”Torinaoshi”, Japan “In My Dream”, Turkey Barbora KučerÍKovÁ”, Czech “ Apart”, China Hong Kong “In”, South Korea
Best Music: “Depth of Pyaar”, India “Blind Mind”, India “Feel India”, Moldova “ Apait”, China Hong Kong
Best Actor: Keigo Oka, “”Lifelike”, Japan Ramesh Varma, “ The 137 Auditions Of Avrahaam”, India Zhao Xuan, “A Touch of Spring”, Canada Hui WangJun, “ Father And Son”, China Jason Tobin, “JASMINE ”, USA
Best Actress: Zicheng Li, “ A Sunburnt Summer”, USA Nhi Do, “ Hope And Grace”, Canada Sofiee NG, “ Apart”, China Hong Kong Jessica Park, “Trust Me”, France Sahra Asadollahe , “Homa And Sisters”, Iran
Best Child Actor: Bai Zeze, “ Like Father And Son”, China Sean Lee,”Like How I Remember”, Australia Mukesh Asopa, “ Depth Of Pyaar”, Canada June CÁCeres, “Serfs”, Venezuela Ariful Islam , “Bringing Schools To Where There Are None!”, Italy
Best Child Actress: Ireland Richards, “Landing”, USA Hae-Sup Sin, “ Comrade Anna”, Switzerland Olivia Tang, “ Sometimes Never”, USA Moditha Dabare, “Catharsis”, Sri Lanka Tiffany Frances, “Hello From Taiwan”, USA
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia issued the following statement on the September 2020 Employment Situation Report:
“Today’s report shows 877,000 private-sector jobs added back in September, and an additional 145,000 jobs from July and August. However, the report reflects a seasonally-adjusted loss of 350,000 jobs in public and private education. Large gains were made in lower-wage jobs in retail and leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing added 66,000 jobs, its largest increase since June. ”
“More than half the jobs lost from the pandemic have now been restored, and the third quarter ended with a 7.9 percent unemployment rate, half the15.8 percent third quarter unemployment rate projected by the Congressional Budget Office in May.”
Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced the adoption of a final rule modernizing the Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) system. Commerce also announced plans to unveil a new online platform for SIMA on Commerce’s website in October.
“These significant improvements to SIMA will enable Commerce and the public to more readily identify transshipment and circumvention involving steel imports,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “This is one more way the Trump Administration is standing up for our workers and families across the country who depend on a strong American steel industry.”
The regulatory changes adopted by today’s final rule will: (1) require steel import license applicants to identify not only the country of origin, but also the country where steel used in the manufacture of the imported product was melted and poured, as defined in the final rule; (2) expand the scope of steel products subject to the import licensing requirement to include all products subject to Section 232 tariffs; (3) extend the SIMA system indefinitely; and (4) codify the existing low-value license requirement for certain steel entries up to $5,000. Commerce received public comments on these regulatory changes, as published in a March 2020 proposed rule.
The new online platform for SIMA to be released on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, represents the first major overhaul of the system since it was last updated in 2005. The updated SIMA will offer free, modern data analytic tools to the public for performing detailed, customized data analysis. These tools will aid in the identification of changing trade patterns and surges in U.S. imports of steel products, as well as potential circumvention and evasion.
Commerce will hold a series of webinars for users to become familiar with the updated SIMA system. The webinars will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. For specific dates and times of the demonstrations, and for information about participating, please visit https://www.trade.gov/updates-steel-import-licensing.
The updates to SIMA are consistent with the May 17, 2019 joint understandings between the United States and Canada, and the United States and Mexico, which provided that in monitoring for steel import surges, the United States may treat products made with steel that is melted and poured in North America separately from products that are not.
SIMA is administered by Commerce’s Enforcement and Compliance unit within the International Trade Administration, which is responsible for vigorously enforcing U.S. trade laws.
The U.S. Department of Commerce and the European Commission have initiated discussions to evaluate the potential for an enhanced EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework to comply with the July 16 judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Schrems II case. This judgment declared that this framework is no longer a valid mechanism to transfer personal data from the European Union to the United States.
The European Union and the United States recognize the vital importance of data protection and the significance of cross-border data transfers to our citizens and economies. We share a commitment to privacy and the rule of law, and to further deepening our economic relationship, and have collaborated on these matters for several decades.
As we face new challenges together, including the recovery of the global economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, our partnership will strengthen data protection and promote greater prosperity for our nearly 800 million citizens on both sides of the Atlantic.
Thank you, Mark, for that kind introduction, and for hosting us here at the MBA Conference Center. And congratulations on 115 years of your company providing goods and services to the many generations of industrial firms that have benefited from your longevity. It says a lot about your company culture for it to have weathered countless downturns, big changes in technology, and the rise of global competitors. That’s quite an achievement.
Thank you also, John, for hosting us, and a special thanks to your members. Your organization is essential in helping companies connect with each other and to national networks to solve mutual problems. I know this is especially important in these challenging times.
We need more organizations like yours promoting the benefits of manufacturing and industry to the U.S. economy. Since fostering economic growth is job number-one for all of us, today is significant for American producers.
July 1 is the first day that the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement enters into force – and this ground-breaking trade agreement couldn’t come at a better time. It fortifies the world’s largest trading block, and it provides American companies with a level playing field on our own continent for the first time since 1994. USMCA is the result of President Trump’s unwavering commitment to rebalance U.S. trade in favor of American producers and American workers. The agreement should be of particular help to Pennsylvania, the country’s tenth largest exporting state, and the backbone of our manufacturing economy.
Last year, Pennsylvania’s exports to Canada and Mexico topped $15 billion, representing 36 percent of the state’s total global exports. USMCA’s new rules of origin will help rebuild U.S. production that was outsourced to Asia, and it will go a long way to re-establishing domestic supply chains in many industrial sectors. USCMA increases North American content of vehicles to 75 percent, and it requires that up to 45 percent of the value of passenger cars be made by workers earning an average base-wage of at least $16 an hour.
Now, we finally have an agreement that levels the playing field for American workers. With the economic lockdowns required by the coronavirus pandemic, the last three-and-a-half months have not been easy for anyone.
More than 15,000 workers have been furloughed in Erie, 10 percent of whom were employed in manufacturing. Thankfully, most manufacturers have been proactive ─ and creative ─ in re-engineering production lines to protect their employees. Many have switched to producing life-saving PPE, and we are grateful for your doing so. As a result, there have been far fewer layoffs in manufacturing than in many service sectors.
We also hope the worst of the downturn is behind us. May’s job numbers were encouraging, as nearly 200,000 Pennsylvanians returned to work, with more than 25,000 of them headed back into manufacturing plants. Moreover, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate remained below the national average.
One hopeful sign for a speedy recovery is reflected in the U.S. savings rate that has increased to 23.1 percent. Total bank deposits have jumped by $2.1 trillion during the past four months. It means that our financial institutions are sound, as compared to 2008. And as the economy opens with pent-up demand, these consumer savings will be spent in local businesses with more workers being rehired. Already, we are seeing healthy and record increases in retail sales.
Your region’s commitment to manufacturing should bode well for a strong recovery. As the one-time “Boiler and Engine Capital of the World,” Erie now supports more than 18,000 manufacturing jobs. At 17 percent of the local labor force, this is double the national average of 8.5 percent.
In the global competition for jobs and industries, Erie has many advantages, including:
• Your central location between major metropolitan areas;
• Your eight Opportunity Zones that will generate new investment in the downtown area.
• Your skilled workforce and excellent education and training institutions such as Penn State Erie, the Erie Business Center, and many others;
• The fact that you have such a diverse group of industries within your midst;
• An attractive cost of living and the availability of affordable housing;
• And an incredible setting overlooking one the world’s largest and most pristine fresh-water lakes.
• We hear there is a healthy stock of more than 100 million two-year-old walleye in Lake Erie right now ready to be caught by anglers.
You also have some great employers. Wabtec generated $2.7 billion in economic activity in Erie County alone, and the plastics industry has emerged as an economic force, with 10 percent of the nation’s plastics either manufactured or finished in Erie. I look forward to touring one of your area’s outstanding manufacturers later this morning, when we visit 91-year-old Howard Industries.
Now, I am eager to hear your ideas on how we can work together to accelerate our economic recovery, re-shore our industries, and generate thousands of great jobs for the workers of Erie and Northwestern Pennsylvania.
Washington D.C. – With the Chinese Communist Party’s imposition of new security measures on Hong Kong, the risk that sensitive U.S. technology will be diverted to the People’s Liberation Army or Ministry of State Security has increased, all while undermining the territory’s autonomy. Those are risks the U.S. refuses to accept and have resulted in the revocation of Hong Kong’s special status.
Commerce Department regulations affording preferential treatment to Hong Kong over China, including the availability of export license exceptions, are suspended. Further actions to eliminate differential treatment are also being evaluated. We urge Beijing to immediately reverse course and fulfill the promises it has made to the people of Hong Kong and the world.