State Department Increases Emphasis On International Commerce
Alex McLamb and Jordan Shepherd
In an address at the annual meeting of the United States Export-Import Bank, Secretary of State John Kerry indicated an increased emphasis on international commercial relations at the State Department. Secretary Kerry specifically noted the appointment of three trade officials with extensive business experience, including David Thorne, a former investment advisor, who will guide a new department-wide effort to promote economic issues as a key part of U.S. foreign policy. Secretary Kerry's renewed emphasis on commercial issues follows remarks made during his Senate confirmation hearings last year, which he echoed during this address: "Economic policy is foreign policy and foreign policy is economic policy." The enhanced focus on U.S. economic interests in foreign policy, along with the SelectUSA program – a joint effort between the Departments of State and Commerce to attract foreign investment to the United States – are intended to benefit U.S. manufacturing and industry interests in expanding global business opportunities.
USTR Issues Special 301 Report On Intellectual Property Rights
Szymon Maziakowski and Pat Togni
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released its annual Special 301 Report, which documents the efforts of trading partners to protect and enforce Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), on April 30. The Special 301 Report is based on written submissions from the public, a hearing before USTR, and an assessment of the IPR landscape of each country reviewed. The name of the Report refers to the section of the Trade Act of 1974 that governs relief from unfair trade practices and enforcement of U.S. rights under trade agreements. Of the 82 trading partners reviewed in the 2014 Report, USTR placed 10 countries on the Priority Watch List and 27 countries on the Watch List for IPR breaches including internet piracy and improper market supervision.
China, India, and Russia were all listed on the Priority Watch List, which focuses increased bilateral attention on problem areas and brings targeted countries closer to a monitoring regime. In particular, USTR's report continues to cite China for pressuring foreign stakeholders to transfer IPR to domestic entities, non-enforcement of IPR, and misappropriation of trade secrets. In contrast, USTR removed Italy and the Philippines from this year's Watch List.
Rhonda Schmidtlein Sworn In As ITC Commissioner
Cole Pfeiffer and P. Lee Smith
Rhonda Schnare Schmidtlein (D-MO) was sworn in as a Commissioner of the International Trade Commission (ITC) on Monday, April 28, 2014. Most recently, Commissioner Schmidtlein served as an expert consultant to the World Bank, providing insight on strengthening audit and accounting regulation and oversight in emerging markets. Additionally, she brings experience from her leadership roles at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and with the General Counsel's office at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Commissioner Schmidtlein holds a bachelor's degree in Accountancy from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a juris doctor degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law.