STATEMENT BY U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR SCALIA ON THE SEPTEMBER JOBS REPORT

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.”

U.S. Department of Commerce Releases Enhanced Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis System

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.

Joint Press Statement from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders

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.

Remarks by Wilbur L. Ross at the Manufacturer & Business Association Roundtable in Erie, Pennsylvania

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.

Thank you.

Statement from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Revocation of Hong Kong Special Status

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.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ISSUES INTERIM FINAL RULE TO IMPLEMENT PROVISIONS OF THE UNITED STATES-MEXICO-CANADA AGREEMENT

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced an interim final rule providing regulations necessary to implement and administer the high-wage components of the Labor Value Content (LVC) requirements set forth in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the treaty’s implementing statute. The rule provides needed guidance to producers of motor vehicles covered by the USMCA, describing criteria they must meet to qualify for preferential tariff claims under the treaty.

The LVC requirements promote more high-wage jobs for the U.S. automobile and auto parts industry by requiring that, to qualify for preferential tariff claims under the treaty, manufacturers must produce a significant portion of certain motor vehicles using high-wage labor. Among other requirements, the treaty requires that for a passenger vehicle, light truck or heavy truck to be eligible for preferential tariff treatment, a minimum percentage of the cost of the vehicle must be made at a facility that pays an average hourly base rate of at least $16 per hour.

“Through the USMCA, the United States is establishing more balanced, reciprocal trade that supports high-paying jobs for Americans and grows the North American economy,” said Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “The USMCA recognizes that international trade, investment and economic growth are promoted through the protection and enforcement of labor rights and the improvement of working conditions. This is a significant win for the workforce in the American auto industry, and helps level the playing field for U.S. manufacturers.”

To qualify for preferential tariff treatment, a producer must file a certification with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) demonstrating that its production of covered vehicles meets the high-wage components of the LVC requirements. WHD, in conjunction with CBP, will review those certifications.

“The Wage and Hour Division is proud to support this new law through our role in the certification and verification process,” said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton. “The interim final rule we published today ensures that manufacturers and other stakeholders understand the specific requirements and procedures for claiming preferential tariff treatment, and it provides transparency into the process.”

The interim final rule is effective July 1, 2020 and is available for review and public comment for 60 days. The Department encourages interested parties to submit comments. The interim final rule, along with the procedures for submitting comments, can be found at the Wage and Hour Division’s interim final rule website.

WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of America’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child-labor requirements of the FLSA. WHD also enforces the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration-related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

United States Announces Nominee for Presidency of the Inter-American Development Bank Group

WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that the United States intends to nominate Mauricio J. Claver-Carone for the presidency of the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB).

“The IDB is at a critical juncture as the region faces growing challenges to economic growth and sustainable development, particularly in light of the global pandemic,” said Secretary Mnuchin.  “The nomination of Mr. Claver-Carone demonstrates President Trump’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in important regional institutions, and to advancing prosperity and security in the Western Hemisphere.  We are confident that his leadership of the IDB will strengthen its ability to deliver development impact to the region.” 

Mr. Claver-Carone currently serves as the Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council.  During his time at the White House, he spearheaded the whole-of-government Growth in the Americas (‘America Crece’) initiative to support economic development by catalyzing private sector investment in energy and infrastructure projects across Latin America and the Caribbean.  

Mr. Claver-Carone also played an important role in developing the bipartisan Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act of 2018, which created the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, and has facilitated its robust engagement in Latin America. 

In addition to roles in the private sector, Mr. Claver-Carone has previously served as U.S. Representative to the International Monetary Fund, as Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and as an attorney-advisor with the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. 

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Rollins College, Juris Doctor from the Catholic University of America, and Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown University Law Center.

Commerce Clears Way for U.S. Companies to More Fully Engage in Tech Standards-Development Bodies

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced a new rule today ensuring U.S. industry’s ability to more fully contribute to standards-development activities in the telecommunications sector. International standards serve as the critical building blocks for technological development by enabling functionality, interoperability, and safety. U.S. participation and leadership in standard-setting influences the future of 5G, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, and other cutting-edge technologies.

“The United States will not cede leadership in global innovation. This action recognizes the importance of harnessing American ingenuity to advance and protect our economic and national security,” said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “The Department is committed to protecting U.S. national security and foreign policy interests by encouraging U.S. industry to fully engage and advocate for U.S. technologies to become international standards.”

This action is meant to ensure Huawei’s placement on the Entity List in May 2019 does not prevent American companies from contributing to important standards-developing activities despite Huawei’s pervasive participation in standards-development organizations.

Under the new Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) rule, technology that would not have required a license to be disclosed to Huawei before the company’s placement on the Entity List can be disclosed for the purpose of standards development in a standards-development body without need for an export license. In amending the Huawei Entity Listing, the rule promotes U.S. national security and foreign policy interests by facilitating U.S. leadership in standards-development bodies.

The general advisory opinion posted by BIS on August 19, 2019, is no longer in effect. The Department will continue to engage with stakeholders and take the actions necessary in the interest of U.S. national security and foreign policy.

Background:

• In 2019, BIS added Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd and its foreign affiliates (collectively, “Huawei”) to the Entity List under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) because Huawei posed a significant risk of involvement in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.

• Sent to the Federal Register on Friday, June 12, the action authorizes the release of U.S. technology designated as EAR99 or controlled only for Anti-Terrorism reasons on the Commerce Control List without a license, in the context of “voluntary consensus standards bodies” of which Huawei is a participant, for the purpose of contributing to the revision or development of a “standard,” as defined in Office of Management and Budget Circular A-119 (Rev. 2016).

The rule returns U.S. industry to the status quo ante, from an Entity List perspective, with respect to disclosures of such technology to Huawei and its affiliates in legitimate standards development contexts only, and not for commercial purposes. Disclosures for commercial purposes remain “subject to the EAR” and are still subject to recordkeeping and all other applicable EAR requirements.

President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (PAC-AAPI) Convenes Inaugural Open Meeting and Virtual Listening Session

WASHINGTON – On May 20th, the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders convened its Inaugural Open Meeting with all fourteen (14) Commissioners in attendance. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, Co-Chairs of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, provided welcoming remarks at the meeting, which commenced with the official swearing-in ceremony of Commissioner Helen Van Etten of Kansas.

The Commission is tasked by President Trump’s Executive Order to provide advice to the President, through the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Transportation, on how to broaden access by Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) employers and communities to economic resources and opportunities.

“We appreciate your advocacy for the more than 1.9 million AAPI-owned businesses, and for the 22 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, many of whom have been so adversely impacted by the pandemic,” said Secretary Wilbur Ross in his welcome remarks. “Your work on their behalf is more important than ever before. Secretary Chao and I look forward to your advising us and President Trump on how best the U.S. government can serve this vibrant and growing American community.”

Secretary Elaine L. Chao highlighted the four areas that both the Commission and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are focused on: Passing the Torch, Breaking the Glass Ceiling, Bridging the Income Gap, and AAPI Women in Leadership. In highlighting the ways the AAPI community can better take advantage of federal resources and opportunities, she shared: “Secretary Ross and I recently signed a letter to re-establish the White House Initiative Interagency Working Group. This group consists of representatives from throughout the federal government who will advise the Initiative on the implementation and coordination of Federal programs as they relate to Asian Pacific American access to economic resources and opportunities.”

Dr. Paul Hsu, Chair of the Commission, provided opening remarks and convened the meeting by addressing the task at hand: “President Trump has clearly outlined in his Executive Order that our mission is to improve the lives of all AAPIs and their communities, which will always be our guiding principle and our roadmap. That is exactly why we are here today.”

The President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders also convened its first virtual AAPI Business Town Hall with business owners, chambers of commerce and business associations on Tuesday, May 19th, a day prior to the open meeting. Chair of the Commission Dr. Paul Hsu and Commissioner Herman Martir facilitated this listening session hosted by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. About 200 AAPI business and community leaders participated with many of the Commissioners also in attendance.

As the Commission prepares its advisory reports, these town halls and listening sessions reflect the mission and importance of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community to our country. Many of the speakers provided insight on how the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak has affected AAPI-owned businesses across different states and U.S. territories, including Guam and American Samoa. Town hall speakers represented 9 different states and U.S. territories, while audience participants hailed from 31 different states and territories. In response to concerns about harassment of AAPIs due to the virus, the Initiative and interagency working group are coordinating with the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure active engagement with local communities on addressing these issues.  

These public forums also provided a platform for federal officials and trade groups to highlight resources and opportunities. At the AAPI Business Town Hall, the U.S. Census Bureau provided a presentation on the Small Business Pulse Survey, which asks small businesses to share the impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak on their business. There was also an update on the ongoing 2020 Census, including the latest response rate, information about the extended window for response to the Census, highlights of the partnership and outreach campaign, and ideas about virtual ways that partners can support the Census in the upcoming months. The U.S. Census Bureau’s partnership program is working with more than 6,000 organizations across the country that serve Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

Following the U.S. Census Bureau, the Small Business Roundtable, a coalition of leading small business and entrepreneurship organizations, presented a read out of their State of Small Business Report. This report will be the first of an ongoing series that tracks the activities of small businesses across the country.

Commerce Department to Add Two Dozen Chinese Companies with Ties to WMD and Military Activities to the Entity List

WASHINGTON (May 22, 2020) – The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced it will add 24 governmental and commercial organizations to the Entity List for engaging in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. The entities, based in China, Hong Kong, and the Cayman Islands, represent a significant risk of supporting procurement of items for military end-use in China.