Gina M. Raimondo Co-chairs U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo issued the following statement regarding the first session of the relaunched U.S.-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue, which was held today at the White House.

“Today, I was honored to co-chair the first U.S.-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue that Presidents Biden and López Obrador agreed to relaunch in March 2021. I am grateful to have been joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, USAID Administrator Samantha Power and Ambassador Kenneth Salazar, as well as our colleagues from Mexico, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier, and Ambassador Esteban Moctezuma Barragán.”

“Mexico is a critical strategic ally and partner of the United States and is a top destination for U.S. exports. As neighbors, it is imperative that we leverage our partnership to build back from the pandemic together and advance shared economic and commercial goals, such as promoting inclusive trade and investment and strengthening regional supply chains.”

“The conversation that began today is the first step towards realizing these goals. We have agreed to the four pillars that will guide our discussion: Building Back Together; Promoting Sustainable Economic and Social Development in Southern Mexico and Central America; Securing the Tools for Future Prosperity; and Investing in Our People. While there is still much to do, I look forward to working to ensure that the U.S.-Mexico economic and commercial relationship builds on its strong foundation to bring shared prosperity and security to our peoples.”

California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kunarakis presented a Certificate of Recognition to the AICC for its participation in the CIFTIS 2021

California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis presented a Certificate of Recognition to the American International Chamber of Commerce (AICC) on September 2 and thanked the AICC for its participation in hosting the California Pavilion and Investment Trade Forum at the China International Trade in Services (CIFTIS) 2021.

“It is with great pleasure to recognize you and your leadership your role as Executive Chairman of the American International Chamber of Commerce (AICC),” Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kunarakis wrote on the Certificate of Recognition, “Thank you for representing the AICC as the host of the California Pavilion and Forum in the International Trade and Service Fair in Beijing, China.”

“I am very pleased that Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kunarakis of California today presented the Certificate of Recognition to AICC, and I thank the State of California for reaffirming the work of the AICC,” said Holmes Stoner, Chairman of the American International Chamber of Commerce, on September 2nd, “Under the current economic and trade environment between the United States and China, it is of special significance for the California government to recognize and award the work of the AICC in China. We always believe that foreign enterprises will have more development opportunities and broader development space and benefit more from cooperating with California enterprises or investing in California. For a long time, we have focused on promoting California’s cooperation with Provinces and cities in China, which has achieved sustainable and productive results and won praise and praise from our partners and member companies. We are willing to continue to strengthen interaction and provide services for Chinese enterprises and entrepreneurs, and work together for mutually beneficial development.”

“We are grateful to the State of California and Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kunarakis for their support of our project,” said Jason Quin, Executive Chairman of the AICC, “CIFTIS is the largest fair of trade in service in the world. The AICC is willing to provide effective services to American businesses participating in the CIFTIS. Through the excellent platform of CIFTIS, the AICC will continue to promote the image of participating companies, enhance their brands, and promote business development. Actively provide follow-up services for Chinese enterprises and entrepreneurs to invest and do business in California after the conference, and provide practical docking of investment and trade business for our members and customers.”



Gina M. Raimondo’s Call with Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade

WASHINGTON D.C., Sept 1 – Today, Secretary Raimondo had an introductory meeting with Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade, Nguyen Hong Dien.

During their phone call, the Secretary and Minister Dien discussed the significance of the U.S.-Vietnam commercial relationship and potential areas for further growth. Secretary Raimondo highlighted the importance of energy sector cooperation, such as in renewable energy and smart grid solutions, to combat climate change.

They also discussed supply chain resilience and other priority commercial issues.

Readout of Secretary Raimondo’s Call With Indian Ambassador Taranjit Sandhu

August 23, Secretary Raimondo spoke with the Indian Ambassador to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu to discuss the U.S.-India commercial relationship. During their meeting, Secretary Raimondo and Ambassador Sandhu underscored the importance of this commercial relationship and their commitment to growing business ties in support of the broader strategic relationship. They discussed scheduling the U.S.-India CEO Forum and U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue and the rescheduling of the U.S.-India High Technology Cooperation Group meeting. They also discussed U.S.-India technology collaboration and improving digital economy policies to strengthen that collaboration.

Gina Raimondo Announces $3 Billion Investment in America’s Communities

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) will implement a series of programs, collectively called Investing in America’s Communities, to equitably invest the $3 billion it received from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act to help communities across the country build back better. The EDA investment is the largest economic development initiative from the Department of Commerce in decades.

Later today, Secretary Raimondo will address the White House Briefing Room to further lay out the Biden Administration’s vision for how this historic investment will help every community not only rebuild their local economy but also reimagine it for the future.

“President Biden’s American Rescue Plan delivered direct relief to the American people and was the first step to energizing the American economy following the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Secretary Raimondo. “Now, its medium-term investments will allow communities around the country not only rebuild but reimagine their economy for the future.”

“With an emphasis on equity, EDA’s investments made possible by the American Rescue Plan will directly benefit communities that have been denied full access to economic prosperity and who have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” Secretary Raimondo continued. “We will work with local communities across the country on innovative new approaches to ensure that we can increase American competitiveness by strengthening our workforce, businesses, and communities and build back better in regions across the country.”

Investing in America’s Communities, was launched today with six Notices of Funding Opportunity:

  • Build Back Better Regional Challenge ($1 billion)
  • Good Jobs Challenge ($500 million)
  • Economic Adjustment Assistance Challenge ($500 million)
  • Indigenous Communities Challenge ($100 million)
  • Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Grants ($750 million)
  • Statewide Planning, Research, and Networks Grants ($90 million)

As part of the six programs, the Department of Commerce and EDA, working with President Biden’s Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities, is making a Coal Communities Commitment, which allocates $300 million in American Rescue Plan funds to coal communities. This investment will ensure that they have the resources to recover from the pandemic and will help create new jobs and opportunities, including through the development or expansion of a new industry sector.

The American Rescue Plan funding empowers EDA to build upon its greatest strength—flexible funding to support community-led economic development—and provide larger, more transformational investments across the nation. Under the American Rescue Plan, EDA will make grants to state and local governmental entities, institutions of higher education, not-for-profit entities, unions, and Tribes. EDA is not authorized to provide grants to individuals or for-profit entities.

US Blacklists 34 Entities, Including 14 Chinese Companies

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) added 34 entities to the Entity List for their involvement in, or risk of becoming involved in, activities contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States. Of these 34 entities, 14 are based in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and have enabled Beijing’s campaign of repression, mass detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and members of other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regions of China (XUAR), where the PRC continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. Commerce added another five entities directly supporting PRC’s military modernization programs related to lasers and C4ISR programs to the Entity List.

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo issued the following statement: “The Department of Commerce remains firmly committed to taking strong, decisive action to target entities that are enabling human rights abuses in Xinjiang or that use U.S. technology to fuel China’s destabilizing military modernization efforts. We will continue to aggressively use export controls to hold governments, companies, and individuals accountable for attempting to access U.S.-origin items for subversive activities in countries like China, Iran, and Russia that threaten U.S. national security interests and are inconsistent with our values.”

As part of this package, Commerce added eight entities for facilitating the export of U.S. items to Iran in violation of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) or to entities on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control Specially-Designated Nationals List. Commerce added another six entities for their involvement in the procurement of U.S.-origin electronic components, likely in furtherance of Russian military programs. Additionally, Commerce added one entity to the Military End-User List under the destination of Russia. Finally, Commerce removed one entity from the Unverified List, as a conforming change to this same entity being added to the Entity List for being involved in proliferation to unsafeguarded nuclear activities.

The Entity List is a tool utilized by BIS to restrict the export, reexport, and transfer (in-country) of items subject to the EAR to persons (individuals, organizations, companies) reasonably believed to be involved, or to pose a significant risk of becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. Additional license requirements apply to exports, re-exports, and transfers (in-country) of items subject to the EAR to listed entities, and the availability of most license exceptions is limited.

U.S. Signs MOU Establishing U.S. Trade Zone in Kingdom of Bahrain

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).

U.S. and Singapore Sign MOU on Trade Financing and Investment Cooperation

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.

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.

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.