U.S. Mobilizes Against the Zika Virus. Last Tuesday, President Obama was briefed on the potential economic and developmental impacts of the Zika virus spreading in the Western Hemisphere. The President emphasized the need to accelerate research efforts to make available better diagnostic tests, to develop vaccines and therapeutics, and to ensure that all Americans have information about the Zika virus and steps they can take to better protect themselves from infection. With the President due to release his Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Budget request on 9 February, some accounts will likely be bolstered to account for a U.S. response to Zika.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued travel advisories for those countries with active Zika virus transmissions and guidance for domestic health care providers caring for pregnant women. There have been reports that pregnant women infected by Zika may have an increased chance of giving birth to babies with microcephaly, a congenital condition leading to abnormally small brains that causes life-long neurological complications. According to the CDC, 31 cases have been confirmed in the continental United States, all individuals who had traveled to affected areas. Another 20 cases were confirmed in U.S. territories – Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of these confirmed cases, it is unknown how many were pregnant women.
TPP Developments – Signing Ceremony Ahead. Last Monday, New Zealand released the final legal text of the TPP deal, replacing the preliminary text released on 5 November. Ahead of the scheduled TPP signing ceremony in New Zealand this Thursday, Akira Amari, Japan’s Economy Minister and lead TPP negotiator, announced his resignation on Thursday at a press conference in Tokyo, amid corruption allegations. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe reiterated that Amari’s resignation would not impact the deal. On 29 January, President Obama empowered U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to sign the deal on behalf of the United States.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) announced on Friday the names of those private sector individuals who will testify before the panel’s first 2016 hearing, “Reaching America’s Potential: Delivering Growth and Opportunity for All Americans” on Tuesday, 2 February. On Tuesday, President Obama is scheduled to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to discuss legislative priorities and potential areas for cooperation over the coming months.
Data Privacy – Senate Possibly Complicates Safe Harbor Negotiations. Last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Judicial Redress Act (H.R. 1428), including a provision not contained in the House-passed version. The new Senate provision, which could complicate the ongoing Safe Harbor negotiations between the United States and the EU, adds further requirements to the extension of privacy rights to foreign citizens, but also provides U.S. regulators with considerable flexibility to assert that certain commercial data transfers do not accord with U.S. national security interests. The EU deadline of Sunday, 31 January, passed with no final agreement reached to ensure data privacy.
Electrify Africa – Expected to Pass House Next Monday. On Monday, 1 February, the House is scheduled to take up and pass the Senate-passed Electrify Africa bill (S. 2152) when it reconvenes, sending the measure forward to President Obama for signature into law.
The above is a truncated version of Trade Talk. For access to the complete content, please email TradeTalk@squirepb.com.