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CRS — State Sponsors of Acts of International Terrorism–Legislative Parameters: In Brief (February 27, 2015)

April 23, 2015 Comments off

State Sponsors of Acts of International Terrorism–Legislative Parameters: In Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria are identified by the U.S. government as countries with governments that support acts of international terrorism. As the 114th Congress is sworn in and begins its first session, U.S. foreign policy and national security policies toward Cuba, Iran, and North Korea are in a state of close scrutiny, with an eye to easing sanctions, including removing Cuba and Iran from the terrorist lists, and with an eye to returning North Korea to the same lists. While it is the President’s authority to designate, and remove from designation, terrorist states, Congress is likely to weigh in as the reviews proceed.

This brief report provides information on legislation that authorizes the designation of any foreign government as a state sponsor of acts of international terrorism. It addresses the statutes and how they each define acts of international terrorism; establish a list to limit or prohibit aid or trade; provide for systematic removal of a foreign government from a list, including timeline and reporting requirements; authorize the President to waive restrictions on a listed foreign government; and provide (or do not provide) Congress with a means to block a delisting. It closes with a summary of delisting in the past.

Using the Internet to Promote Services Exports by Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises

April 23, 2015 Comments off

Using the Internet to Promote Services Exports by Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (PDF)
Source: Brookings Institution

This paper discusses the importance of services exports for the U.S. economy. In this context, the paper analyzes how export promotion agencies (EPAs) can use the Internet to grow services exports by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The first part of this paper discusses how engaging in international trade benefits services SMEs and the U.S. economy. Part 2 provides an overview of the barriers faced by SME service firms in using the Internet to go global and analyzes the different ways that SMEs use the Internet, from reaching consumers globally, communicating with suppliers, to becoming part of global supply chains. Based on interviews and an online survey with export promotion agencies (EPAs) in the U.S. and select other countries, Part 3 describes how EPAs are engaging service SMEs and assisting them in using the Internet to become international traders. Part 4 draws on the experiences of EPA support for SME services exporters and recommends how to scale up some of these approaches in ways that would have a broader impact on SME services exports.1 The paper concludes with thoughts on future research.

CRS — Major Agricultural Trade Issues in the 114th Congress (February 10, 2015)

April 22, 2015 Comments off

Major Agricultural Trade Issues in the 114th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Trade, including agricultural trade, is clearly on the national agenda in the 114th Congress. The United States is engaged in negotiating two large regional trade agreements—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) among 12 Pacific-facing nations, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) with the European Union. These agreements hold the potential to expand foreign markets for U.S. farmers and food processors by eliminating, or substantially lowering, tariffs and restrictive quotas around certain commodities, such as rice and pork in Japan, or by dismantling supply management programs that protect poultry, eggs, and dairy in Canada. Also on the negotiating agenda are non-tariff trade barriers, including certain sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures that governments employ to safeguard human, animal, and plant health, but which may also be used to deter imports. Geographic Indications (GI) that restrict the use of common names for certain agricultural products and can thereby impede trade in U.S. farm products are on the agenda of U.S. negotiators in both TPP and T-TIP. At the global level, further liberalization of agricultural trade is an objective of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization (WTO), but those talks have effectively stalled.

Alcohol Policy In The EU – State Of Play March 2015

April 22, 2015 Comments off

Alcohol Policy In The EU – State Of Play March 2015
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

The 2006 EU Alcohol Strategy officially came to an end in December 2012. A report published in December 2012 evaluated the impact of this strategy and concluded that it was still very relevant and had brought about positive added value in terms of addressing alcohol-related harm.

Although the European Commission intended to present a new European Action Plan to reduce alcohol related harm for the period 2014-2017 , no new proposal has as yet been introduced. The Commission nevertheless proposed a new EU action plan on youth drinking and also included alcohol-harm preventive measures in its 2014-2020 Health Programme. Furthermore the Commission also undertook a study to examine the different practices related to labelling of alcoholic beverages.

Recently, the Latvian Presidency 2015 promised in its programme, as part of its health priorities , to “follow the work of the Committee on National Alcohol Policy and Action, and is in the process of developing a scoping paper on the vision of future actions to be taken in the area of an alcohol policy in the EU”.

By means of resolutions and questions, the European Parliament has repeatedly put pressure on the Commission to present a new European Action Plan since alcohol related harm is still a major public health concern across the EU.

CRS — Keystone XL Pipeline: Overview and Recent Developments (April 1, 2015)

April 21, 2015 Comments off

Keystone XL Pipeline: Overview and Recent Developments (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would transport oil sands crude from Canada and shale oil produced in North Dakota and Montana to a market hub in Nebraska for further delivery to Gulf Coast refineries. The pipeline would consist of 875 miles of 36-inch pipe with the capacity to transport 830,000 barrels per day. Because it would cross the Canadian-U.S. border, Keystone XL requires a Presidential Permit from the State Department based on a determination that the pipeline would “serve the national interest.” To make its national interest determination (NID), the department considers potential effects on energy security; environmental and cultural resources; the economy; foreign policy, and other factors. Effects on environmental and cultural resources are determined by preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The NID process also provides for public comment and requires the State Department to consult with specific federal agencies.

CRS — Small Business Administration Trade and Export Promotion Programs (February 3, 2015)

April 21, 2015 Comments off

Small Business Administration Trade and Export Promotion Programs (PDF)
Source: COngressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

According to Census Bureau data, approximately 1% of small businesses in the United States currently export. With roughly three-quarters of world purchasing power and almost 95% of world consumers living outside U.S. borders, more attention is being paid to the potential of small business export promotion programs to grow small businesses and contribute to the national economic recovery. In addition, some Members of Congress believe the contributions of small businesses to commercial innovation and economic growth could be enhanced through greater access to growing international markets.

Consistent with these policy goals, the Small Business Administration (SBA) provides export promotion and financing services to small businesses through its loan guaranty programs, management and training programs, and other initiatives. SBA’s Office of International Trade (OIT) coordinates these activities as it assists with four stages of export promotion: (1) identifying small businesses interested in export promotion; (2) preparing small businesses to export; (3) connecting small businesses to export opportunities; and (4) supporting small businesses once they find export opportunities.

Roundup of Recent Congressional Research Service Reports on the Middle East

April 21, 2015 Comments off

Roundup of Recent Congressional Research Service Reports on the Middle East (PDFs)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

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