On The Hill

Trade Update (November 15)

Nov 15, 2020 | SHARE  

2020 Election Update


On Saturday (Nov. 7), all the major networks, including the Associated Press, announced former Vice President Joe Biden had defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th President of the U.S.

The Trump campaign has filed various lawsuits in swing states challenging the results, and Judges in Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada have already rejected its cases. Experts appear skeptical that the ongoing litigation could change or have a significant impact on the presidential race.

Leaders from across the world have already started to congratulate Biden on his victory. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison are all among those who have spoken with Biden since he won the election. 

Notably, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu both congratulated Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory.


Democrats retained the House majority with a 219-202 margin with 14 races left to be called. Republicans had a net gain of six House seats and are expected to expand that margin. NBC News projects Democrats will hold a 224-211 majority in the House. Prior to the election, Democrats held the majority with 232 seats. At this point, the party will likely lose various seats on crucial committees, including Ways and Means. 


This week, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) won re-election. Both seats in Georgia will be officially determined in a runoff on January 5, 2021. Notably, on Monday (Nov. 9), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said that if there is a 50-50 split he would not vote to end the filibuster.


Biden Transition

On Tuesday (Nov. 10), President-elect Biden’s transition team announced the names of its “review teams” that will oversee operational transitions at federal agencies.

The group includes Obama administration alumni that will lead the teams for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the Department of Commerce.

Geovette Washington, former general counsel at the Office of Management and Budget, will lead the transition team at Commerce. Jason Miller, a former deputy director at the National Economic Council and Deputy Assistant to the President, will be the USTR team lead.

To view a full list of Biden’s review teams, click here.


European Union


On Monday (Nov. 9), the European Union (EU) put new tariffs on U.S. rum, brandy, vodka, and vermouth, as well as aircraft, cheeses, seafood, and other goods. The move comes after the World Trade Organization (WTO) authorized retaliation against the U.S. as part of the long-running dispute over subsidies for Boeing and Airbus.

USTR Robert Lighthizer criticized the EU’s decision, but stopped short on his threat to increase the U.S.’ retaliation. At this point, the U.S. has already acted against $7.5 billion worth of EU goods.[1] 

“The United States is disappointed by the action taken by the EU today,” Lighthizer said.

“The alleged subsidy to Boeing was repealed seven months ago. The EU has long proclaimed its commitment to following WTO rules, but today’s announcement shows they do so only when convenient to them,” he added.

The EU’s new retaliatory tariffs are on about $4 billion worth of U.S. goods – 15 percent on U.S. aircraft and 25 percent on all other products. The tariffs took effect Tuesday (Nov. 10).

Lobster Deal

This week, European Parliament’s trade committee voted in favor of the EU removing tariffs on lobster as part of a mini trade deal with the U.S.

The EU agreed to remove tariffs on live and frozen lobsters earlier this year, and in return the U.S. scrapped its WTO tariffs on goods that EU companies have a larger market share.[2] 

USDA Study

This week, the EU said it does “not believe” a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study that projects the European Commission’s “Farm to Fork” plan could reduce its food supply and cause a rise in food insecurity among vulnerable populations.[3] 

“We think it doesn’t take account of everything that’s in the farm support strategy,” Claire Bury, the European Commission’s Deputy Director General for Food Policy, said.

Bury also said the study does not consider any of the research and innovation in new technologies that are expected to maintain or increase agricultural output.

The EU is preparing its own study of the Farm to Fork plan on agricultural production as well as its imports/exports.

To view the USDA’s study, click here.



On Thursday (Nov. 12), President Trump signed an executive order (EO) that bars Americans from investing in a group of Chinese companies that the administration says support China’s military.[4] 

Earlier this year, the Department of Defense released a list of 31 firms it believes are tied to the country’s military. After Jan. 11, 2021, any investment from an American entity (or person) will be prohibited.

The White House said the move was necessary because China funds its military in part by selling stock in these companies in U.S. markets.

To view the EO, click here.



[1] Palmer, Doug. “EU slams U.S. alcoholic products again in aircraft subsidy dispute.” Politico Pro, 9 Nov. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/10c52551/aGrspuT410685NJyfTEHSQ?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/11/eu-slams-us-alcoholic-products-again-in-aircraft-subsidy-dispute-3985190

[2] Vela, Jakob Hanke & Leali, Giorgio. “EU trade committee endorses lobster deal.” Politico Pro, 11, Nov. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/b020f8d6/Ov_CrR8SK0K32V75z3n6IQ?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/11/eu-trade-committee-endorses-lobster-deal-3985255

[3] Palmer, Doug. “EU rejects critical USDA study of its “Farm to Fork” plan.” Politico Pro, 13 Nov. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/af9d85aa/THLCbuzEvUygPi4Mtxrssw?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/11/eu-rejects-critical-usda-study-of-its-farm-to-fork-plan-2018610

[4] Bade, Gavin. “Trump bars U.S. investments in Chinese military-linked firms.” Politico Pro, 12 Nov. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/e295297b/qrrYp_ibyk26s6V17iHD_A?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/11/trump-bars-us-investments-in-chinese-military-linked-firms-2018344


The Week Ahead

For the main events of the next week and more, go straight to the key events on the house.gov website.

Find out more >

The Week Ahead

For the main events of the next week and more, go straight to the key events on the senate.gov website.

Find out more >

Post Archive