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    House Votes to Suspend Normal Trade Relations With Russia

    WASHINGTON — The House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to strip Russia of its preferential trade status with the United States, moving to further penalize the country’s economy in response to the invasion of Ukraine.The lopsided 424-to-8 vote came after President Biden announced last week that the United States and its European allies would take new steps to isolate Russia from the global trading system. All of the lawmakers who opposed the measure were Republicans.The bill, which would allow the United States to impose higher tariffs on Russian goods, is the latest in a series of measures that lawmakers have approved to support Ukraine and punish Russia for its invasion. Others include a ban on Russian oil and gas products and a $13.6 billion military and humanitarian aid package.The trade measure still needs Senate approval. Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said he would work to move it through the chamber quickly.The House vote came a day after President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine delivered a searing speech to Congress via video link in which he urged lawmakers to do more to help his country and penalize Russia. His address, as well as a wrenching video he showed of Russian-inflicted carnage in Ukraine, hung heavily over the House floor on Thursday as lawmakers debated the trade bill.Mr. Zelensky “showed us the absolute horrors that Russia is inflicting on the Ukrainian people in full view of the world,” said Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. “And he pleaded for us to do more. With the legislation that stands before us at this hour, we intend to answer his call.”Top lawmakers in the House proposed nearly a month ago to strip Russia of its trading status and begin a process to expel the country from the World Trade Organization. But last week, as the House worked to advance the legislation in tandem with a measure to ban the importation of Russian oil and gas products, Democrats stripped out the trade provision at the request of the Biden administration, which sought more time to confer with European allies about the move.“Folks, I know I’ve occasionally frustrated you,” Mr. Biden said to House Democrats at their retreat in Philadelphia last week. “But more important than us moving when we want to is making sure all of NATO is together — is together. They have different vulnerabilities than we do.”The move by the United States to strip Russia of its preferential trade status — known as “permanent normal trade relations” — carries symbolic weight, but trade experts have said it would have a limited economic effect compared with other sanctions that have already been imposed.The legislation passed by the House would also suspend normal trade relations with Belarus, in recognition of its role in aiding Russia’s attack on Ukraine.Stripping Russia of its trading status would be the latest in a growing list of economic penalties imposed on the country, whose economy is facing collapse.Russia-Ukraine War: Key Things to KnowCard 1 of 4A key vote. More

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    Washington State Advances Landmark Deal on Gig Drivers’ Job Status

    Lawmakers have passed legislation granting benefits and protections, but allowing Lyft and Uber to continue to treat drivers as contractors.The Washington State Senate on Friday passed a bill granting gig drivers certain benefits and protections while preventing them from being classified as employees — a longstanding priority of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft.While the vote appears to pave the way for ultimate passage after a similar measure passed the state House of Representatives last week, the two bills would still have to be reconciled before being sent to the governor for approval. Gov. Jay Inslee has not said whether he intends to sign the legislation.Mike Faulk, a spokesman for Mr. Inslee, said Friday that the governor’s office usually did not “speculate on bill action,” adding, “Once legislators send it to our office, we’ll evaluate it.”The Senate legislation — the result of a compromise between the companies and at least one prominent local union, the Teamsters — was approved 40 to 8.The action follows the collapse of similar efforts in California and New York amid resistance from other unions and worker advocates, who argued that gig drivers should not have to settle for second-class status.Under the compromise, drivers would receive benefits like paid sick leave and a minimum pay rate while transporting customers. The bill would also create a process for drivers to appeal so-called deactivations, which prevent them from finding work through the companies’ apps.But the minimum wage wouldn’t cover the time they spend working without a passenger in the car — a considerable portion of most drivers’ days. And like independent contractors, they could not unionize under federal law.One especially controversial feature of the bill is that it would block local jurisdictions from regulating drivers’ rights. A similar feature helped ignite opposition that killed the prospects for such a bill in New York State last year.Looming in the background of the legislative action in Washington State was the possibility of a ballot measure that could have enacted similar changes with weaker benefits for drivers. After California passed a law in 2019 that effectively classified gig workers as employees, Uber, Lyft and other gig companies spent roughly $200 million on a ballot measure that rolled back those protections. The legislation is still being litigated after a state judge deemed it unconstitutional. More

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    E.U. Considers Due Diligence Law for Company Supply Chains

    Large companies operating in the European Union could be held responsible for environmental violations or human rights abuses committed by businesses in their supply chains under a law proposed on Wednesday by the European Commission, the bloc’s administrative arm.“We can no longer turn a blind eye on what happens down our value chains,” said Didier Reynders, the European Union’s commissioner for justice.Under the legislation, known as a due diligence law, businesses would need to establish regulations to detect, prevent and mitigate breaches of human rights, such as child labor, as well as environmental hazards in their supply chains. National governments would define the financial penalties for companies violating the rules.Victims could sue for compensation in domestic courts of E.U. member nations, even if the harm occurred outside the bloc.The commission proposed the rules after some member nations, including Germany and France, introduced different versions of due diligence law at the national level.The legislation will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the 27 national governments, with all parties able to modify the language. The final draft will require passage by the E.U. lawmakers and member nations. The whole process could take a year or more.The proposal would initially apply to companies with more than 500 employees and annual revenue over 150 million euros (about $170 million), a group that includes about 10,000 E.U. businesses, about 1 percent of the total. Around 2,000 companies based outside the bloc but doing business in the European Union, amounting to an annual revenue of more than €150 million, would also be covered. After two years, the range would be expanded to include smaller businesses in so-called high-impact sectors, such as textiles, food products and mining.Businesses expressed concern over the proposal.“It is unrealistic to expect that European companies can control their entire value chains across the world,” said Pierre Gattaz, president of BusinessEurope, a trade organization. “Ultimately these proposals will harm our companies’ ability to remain competitive worldwide.”But Richard Gardiner of Global Witness said the legislation had the potential to become “a watershed moment for human rights and the climate crisis,” if the European Union resisted efforts to water down the proposed measures.“We’ve been investigating big corporations for decades, and when we reveal the harm they’re causing to people and planet, the response is invariably the same: ‘We weren’t aware,’” Mr. Gardiner said. “Today’s proposal from the commission may make that response illegal.”But some analysts remained skeptical, pointing out that the commission’s final proposal, which was delayed several times, is much less ambitious than what was initially planned.“This outcome is the result of an unprecedented level of corporate lobbying,” said Alberto Alemanno, a professor of European Union law at the business school HEC Paris. He said the final result “was downgraded into yet another narrow piece of tick-the-boxes compliance law.”Julia Linares Sabater, a senior officer at the WWF European Policy Office, said the businesses affected “represent a drop in the ocean of the E.U.’s total economy.”“The E.U. needs to be far more ambitious to successfully tackle the climate and biodiversity crises,” she added. More

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    Why Companies Struggled to Navigate Olympics Sponsorships

    The debacle over Olympic sponsorship shows how the U.S.-China relationship has turned into a minefield for companies trying to do business in both countries.WASHINGTON — Companies usually shell out for Olympic sponsorship because it helps their business and reflects well on their brands. But this year, with the Olympics in Beijing, Procter & Gamble paid even more to try to prevent any negative fallout from being associated with China’s repressive and authoritarian government.The company, one of 13 “worldwide Olympic partners” that make the global sports competition possible, hired Washington lobbyists last year to successfully defeat legislation that would have barred sponsors of the Beijing Games from selling their products to the U.S. government. The provision would have blocked Pampers, Tide, Pringles and other Procter & Gamble products from military commissaries, to protest companies’ involvement in an event seen as legitimizing the Chinese government.“This amendment would punish P.&G. and the Olympic movement, including U.S. athletes,” Sean Mulvaney, the senior director for global government relations at Procter & Gamble, wrote in an email to congressional offices in August.Some of the world’s biggest companies are caught in an uncomfortable situation as they attempt to straddle a widening political gulf between the United States and China: What is good for business in one country is increasingly a liability in the other.China is the world’s biggest consumer market, and for decades, Chinese and American business interests have described their economic cooperation as a “win-win relationship.” But gradually, as China’s economic and military might have grown, Washington has taken the view that a win for China is a loss for the United States.The decision to locate the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing has turned sponsorship, typically one of the marketing industry’s most prestigious opportunities, into a minefield.Companies that have sponsored the Olympics have attracted censure from politicians and human rights groups, who say such contracts imply tacit support of atrocities by the Chinese Communist Party, including human rights violations in Xinjiang, censorship of the media and mass surveillance of dissidents.“One thing our businesses, universities and sports leagues don’t seem to fully understand is that, to eat at the C.C.P.’s trough, you will have to turn into a pig,” Yaxue Cao, editor of ChinaChange.org, a website that covers civil society and human rights, told Congress this month.The tension is playing out in other areas as well, including with regards to Xinjiang, where millions of ethnic minorities have been detained, persecuted or forced into working in fields and factories. In June, the United States will enact a sweeping law that will expand restrictions on Xinjiang, giving the United States power to block imports made with any materials sourced from that region.Multinational firms that are trying to comply with these new import restrictions have found themselves facing costly backlashes in China, which denies any accusations of genocide. H&M, Nike and Intel have all blundered into public relations disasters for trying to remove Xinjiang from their supply chains.Explore the Games Propaganda Machine: China has used a variety of tools such as bots and fake social media accounts to promote a vision of the Games that is free of controversy.Aussie Pride: Australia has won more medals than ever before at the 2022 Winter Games. Could the country turn into a winter sports wonderland?At High Speed: The ‘Snow Dream’ train line, built to serve the Winter Olympics, has been a source of excitement — and a considerable expense.Reporter’s View: A typical day in Beijing for our reporters may include a 5 a.m. alarm, six buses, a pizza lunch and lots of live-blogging. For some, it’s the first time back in China in a while.Harsher penalties could be in store. Companies that try to sever ties with Xinjiang may run afoul of China’s anti-sanctions law, which allows the authorities to crack down on firms that comply with foreign regulations they see as discriminating against China.Beijing has also threatened to put companies that cut off supplies to China on an “unreliable entity list” that could result in penalties, though to date the list doesn’t appear to have any members.“Companies are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to complying with U.S. and Chinese law,” said Jake Colvin, the president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which represents companies that do business internationally.President Biden, while less antagonistic than his predecessor, has maintained many of the tough policies put in place by President Donald J. Trump, including hefty tariffs on Chinese goods and restrictions on exports of sensitive technology to Chinese firms.The Biden administration has shown little interest in forging trade deals to help companies do more business abroad. Instead, it is recruiting allies to ramp up pressure on China, including by boycotting the Olympics, and promoting huge investments in manufacturing and scientific research to compete with Beijing. The pressures are not only coming from the United States. Companies are increasingly facing a complicated global patchwork of export restrictions and data storage laws, including in the European Union. Chinese leaders have begun pursuing “wolf warrior” diplomacy, in which they are trying to teach other countries to think twice before crossing China, said Jim McGregor, chairman of APCO Worldwide’s greater China region.He said his company was telling clients to “try to comply with everybody, but don’t make a lot of noise about it — because if you’re noisy about complying in one country, the other country will come after you.”Some companies are responding by moving sensitive activities — like research that could trigger China’s anti-sanctions law, or audits of Xinjiang operations — out of China, said Isaac Stone Fish, the chief executive of Strategy Risks, a consultancy.An NBC production crew in Beijing. An effort to prevent Olympic sponsors, like NBC, from doing business with the U.S. government was cut from a defense bill last year.Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York TimesOthers, like Cisco, have scaled back their operations. Some have left China entirely, though usually not on terms they would choose. For example, Micron Technology, a chip-maker that has been a victim of intellectual property theft in China, is closing down a chip design team in Shanghai after competitors poached its employees.“Some companies are taking a step back and realizing that this is perhaps more trouble than it’s worth,” Mr. Stone Fish said.But many companies insist that they can’t be forced to choose between two of the world’s largest markets. Tesla, which counts China as one of its largest markets, opened a showroom in Xinjiang last month.“We can’t leave China, because China represents in some industries up to 50 percent of global demand and we have intense, deep supply and sales relationships,” said Craig Allen, the president of the U.S.-China Business Council.Companies see China as a foothold to serve Asia, Mr. Allen said, and China’s $17 trillion economy still presents “some of the best growth prospects anywhere.”“Very few companies are leaving China, but all are feeling that it’s risk up and that they need to be very careful so as to meet their legal obligations in both markets,” he said.American politicians of both parties are increasingly bent on forcing companies to pick a side.“To me, it’s completely appropriate to make these companies choose,” said Representative Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican who proposed the bill that would have prevented Olympic sponsors from doing business with the U.S. government.Mr. Waltz said participation in the Beijing Olympics sent a signal that the West was willing to turn a blind eye to Chinese atrocities for short-term profits.The amendment was ultimately cut out of a defense-spending bill last year after active and aggressive lobbying by Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Intel, NBC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others, Mr. Waltz said.Procter & Gamble’s lobbying disclosures show that, between April and December, it spent more than $2.4 million on in-house and outside lobbyists to try to sway Congress on a range of tax and trade issues, including the Beijing Winter Olympics Sponsor Accountability Act.Lobbying disclosures for Coca-Cola, Airbnb and Comcast, the parent company of NBC, also indicate the companies lobbied on issues related to the Olympics or “sports programming” last year.Procter & Gamble and Intel declined to comment. Coca-Cola said it had explained to lawmakers that the legislation would hurt American military families and businesses. NBC and the Chamber of Commerce did not respond to requests for comment.Many companies have argued they are sponsoring this year’s Games to show support for the athletes, not China’s system of government.In a July congressional hearing, where executives from Coca-Cola, Intel, Visa and Airbnb were also grilled about their sponsorship, Mr. Mulvaney said Procter & Gamble was using its partnership to encourage the International Olympic Committee to incorporate human rights principles into its oversight of the Games.“Corporate sponsors are being a bit unfairly maligned here,” Anna Ashton, a senior fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said in an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.Companies had signed contracts to support multiple iterations of the Games, and had no say over the host location, she said. And the funding they provide goes to support the Olympics and the athletes, not the Chinese government.“Sponsorship has hardly been an opportunity for companies this time around,” she said. More

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    Democrats Renew Push for Industrial Policy Bill Aimed at China

    A major competitiveness bill passed the Senate last year with bipartisan support, only to stall. Democrats hope to revive it in the House, but first they will have to bridge big differences.WASHINGTON — Biden administration officials and Democrats in Congress are pushing to revive stalled legislation that would pour billions of dollars into scientific research and development and shore up domestic manufacturing, amid deep differences on Capitol Hill about the best way to counter China and confront persistent supply chain woes.House Democrats unveiled a 2,900-page bill on Tuesday evening that would authorize $45 billion in grants and loans to support supply chain resilience and American manufacturing, along with providing billions of dollars in new funding for scientific research. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that she hoped lawmakers would quickly begin negotiations with the Senate, which passed its own version of the bill last June, to settle on compromise legislation that could be sent to President Biden for his signature.But the effort faces obstacles in Congress, where attempts to sink significant federal resources into scientific research and development to bolster competitiveness with China and combat a shortage of semiconductors have faltered. The Senate-passed measure fizzled last year amid ideological disputes with the House and a focus on efforts to pass Mr. Biden’s infrastructure and social policy bills. For months, the competitiveness measure was rarely even mentioned, except perhaps by Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, who has personally championed it.But facing a disruptive semiconductor shortage that has broken down supply chains and helped fuel inflation, Democrats are now vigorously pressing ahead on the bill. With Mr. Biden’s domestic agenda sputtering, the party is eager for a legislative victory, and top administration officials and lawmakers have said they hope to send a compromise bill to the president’s desk in a matter of months.“We have no time to waste in improving American competitiveness, strengthening our lead in global innovation and addressing supply chain challenges, including in the semiconductor industry,” Mr. Schumer said.Both the House bill and the one that passed the Senate last year would send a lifeline to the semiconductor industry during a global chip shortage that has shut auto plants and rippled through the economy. The bills would offer chip companies $52 billion in grants and subsidies with few restrictions.The measures would also pour billions more into scientific research and development pipelines in the United States, create grants and foster agreements between companies and research universities to encourage breakthroughs in new technologies, and establish new manufacturing jobs and apprenticeships.“The proposals laid out by the House and Senate represent the sort of transformational investments in our industrial base and research and development that helped power the United States to lead the global economy in the 20th century,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “They’ll help bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States, and they’re squarely focused on easing the sort of supply chain bottlenecks like semiconductors that have led to higher prices for the middle class.”The semiconductor shortage has disrupted the economy, broken down supply chains and helped fuel inflation.Sarahbeth Maney/The New York TimesLawmakers will still need to overcome differing views in the House and Senate over how best to take on China and, perhaps more crucially, how to fund the nation’s scientific research.“There are disagreements, legitimate disagreements,” Gina Raimondo, the commerce secretary, said in an interview. “How do we do this? How do we get it right? There doesn’t seem to be much disagreement over the core $52 billion appropriation for chips. There is disagreement around how we make investments in research and development in basic science.”One major difference is that while the Senate bill invests heavily in specific fields of cutting-edge technology, such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing, the House bill places few stipulations on the new round of funding, other than to say that it should go toward fundamental research.In a memo on the legislation, House aides wrote that their measure was “focusing on solutions first, not tech buzzwords.”Some experts argue that approach lacks urgency. Stephen Ezell, the vice president for global innovation policy at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a policy group that receives funding from telecommunications and tech companies, called the House bill “not sufficient to enable the United States to win the advanced technology competition with China.” He argued that the focus on advanced technology in the Senate-passed bill would do more to increase American competitiveness.How the Supply Chain Crisis UnfoldedCard 1 of 9The pandemic sparked the problem. More

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    Commerce Dept. Survey Uncovers ‘Alarming’ Chip Shortages

    Increased demand for the semiconductors that power cars, electronics and electrical grids have stoked inflation and could cause more factory shutdowns in the United States.WASHINGTON — The United States is facing an “alarming” shortage of semiconductors, a government survey of more than 150 companies that make and buy chips found; the situation is threatening American factory production and helping to fuel inflation, Gina M. Raimondo, the commerce secretary, said in an interview on Monday.She said the findings showed a critical need to support domestic manufacturing and called on Congress to pass legislation aimed at bolstering U.S. competitiveness with China by enabling more American production.“It’s alarming, really, the situation we’re in as a country, and how urgently we need to move to increase our domestic capacity,” Ms. Raimondo said.The findings show demand for the chips that power cars, electronics, medical devices and other products far outstripping supply, even as global chip makers approach their maximum production capacity.While demand for semiconductors increased 17 percent from 2019 to 2021, there was no commensurate increase in supply. A vast majority of semiconductor fabrication plants are using about 90 percent of their capacity to manufacture chips, meaning they have little immediate ability to increase their output, according to the data that the Commerce Department compiled.The need for chips is expected to increase, as technologies that use vast amounts of semiconductors, like 5G and electric vehicles, become more widespread.The combination of surging demand for consumer products that contain chips and pandemic-related disruptions in production has led to shortages and skyrocketing prices for semiconductors over the past two years.Chip shortages have forced some factories that rely on the components to make their products, like those of American carmakers, to slow or suspend production. That has dented U.S. economic growth and led to higher car prices, a big factor in the soaring inflation in the United States. The price of a used car grew 37 percent last year, helping to push inflation to a 40-year high in December.The Commerce Department sent out a request for information in September to global chip makers and consumers to gather information about inventories, production capacity and backlogs in an effort to understand where bottlenecks exist in the industry and how to alleviate them.The results of that survey, which the Commerce Department published Tuesday morning, reveal how scarce global supplies of chips have become.The median inventory among buyers had fallen to fewer than five days from 40 days before the pandemic, meaning that any hiccup in chip production — because of a winter storm, for example, or another coronavirus outbreak — could cause shortages that would shut down U.S. factories and again destabilize supply chains, Ms. Raimondo said.“We have no room for error,” she added.To help address the issue, Biden administration officials have coalesced behind a bill that the Senate passed in June as an answer to some of the nation’s supply chain woes.The bill, known in the Senate as the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, would pour nearly a quarter-trillion dollars into scientific research and development to bolster competitiveness against China and prop up semiconductor makers by providing $52 billion in emergency subsidies.Momentum on the legislation stalled amid ideological disputes between the House and Senate over how to direct the funding. In June, House lawmakers passed a narrower bill, eschewing the Senate’s focus on technology development in favor of financing fundamental research.But administration officials, led by Ms. Raimondo, have begun prodding lawmakers behind the scenes in an effort to help bridge their differences to swiftly pass the bill, emphasizing the urgency of quickly signing solutions into law.“There’s no getting around this. There is no other solution,” Ms. Raimondo said. “We need more facilities.”On Tuesday evening, House Democrats unveiled a sweeping, 2,900-page bill that lawmakers said they hoped would be a starting point for negotiations with the Senate, in an effort to ultimately pass a manufacturing and supply chain bill into law. In a statement minutes after the bill text was made public, President Biden hailed both proposals and encouraged “quick action to get this to my desk as soon as possible.”Understand the Global Chip ShortageCard 1 of 7In short supply. More

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    Biden Looks to Intel’s U.S. Investment to Buoy His China Agenda

    The president said passage of a China competition bill was needed “for the sake of our economic competitiveness and our national security.”The $20 billion investment would bring the new plant to Ohio, with operations expected to begin in 2025.Sarahbeth Maney/The New York TimesWASHINGTON — In celebrating a $20 billion investment by Intel in a new semiconductor plant in Ohio, President Biden sought on Friday to jump-start a stalled element of his economic and national security agenda: a huge federal investment in manufacturing, research and development in technologies that China is also seeking to dominate.With two other major legislative priorities sitting moribund in Congress — the Build Back Better Act and legislation to protect voting rights — Mr. Biden moved to press for another bill, and one that has significant bipartisan support.But he has lost seven critical months since the Senate passed the measure, a sprawling China competition bill that would devote nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars to domestic chip manufacturing, artificial intelligence research, robotics, quantum computing and a range of other technologies. The bill amounts to the most expansive industrial policy legislation in U.S. history.Speaking at the White House, Mr. Biden said that America was in a “stiff economic and technological competition” with China. He chose the words deliberately, knowing that while it sounds obvious to American ears, Chinese officials in recent months have protested the use of the word “competition,” declaring that it has echoes of a Cold War-like contest.“We’re going to insist everyone, including China, play by the same rules,” Mr. Biden continued. “We’re going to invest whatever it takes in America, in American innovation, in American communities, in American workers.”He argued that the initiative would be a long-term solution to supply chain disruptions and rising inflation and would free American weapons systems from depending on foreign parts.After months in which he rarely mentioned the China competition bill so that he did not lose focus on other elements of his agenda, Mr. Biden said on Friday that its passage was needed “for the sake of our economic competitiveness and our national security.”Understand the Supply Chain CrisisThe Origins of the Crisis: The pandemic created worldwide economic turmoil. We broke down how it happened.Explaining the Shortages: Why is this happening? When will it end? Here are some answers to your questions.Lockdowns Loom: Companies are bracing for more delays, worried that China’s zero-tolerance Covid policy will shutter factories and ports.A Key Factor in Inflation: In the U.S., inflation is hitting its highest level in decades. Supply chain issues play a big role.“Today, we barely produce 10 percent of the computer chips despite being the leader in chip design and research,” he said. “We don’t have the ability to make the most advanced chips now, right now.”Pervasive shortages of chips, which are needed to power everything from cars and washing machines to medical equipment and electrical grids, have forced some factories to shutter their production lines and knocked a full percentage point off U.S. growth last year, according to some estimates.While the Biden administration has billed Intel’s new investment near Columbus, Ohio, as a partial remedy for supply chain disruptions that have led to global chip shortages and spurred inflation, the project would do little to resolve any economic problems in the short term. The Ohio plant, the first phase of what Intel said could be an investment of up to $100 billion, is not expected to begin operation until 2025, and many analysts have forecast chip shortages to begin to abate later this year.Intel’s chief executive, Patrick Gelsinger, presented Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio with a silicon wafer on Friday. The Biden administration has billed Intel’s new investment as a partial remedy for supply chain disruptions.Paul Vernon/Associated PressBut in addition to providing positive headlines for a beleaguered White House, Intel’s plans may help build momentum for a key element of Mr. Biden’s agenda that was set aside as lawmakers contended with ambitious bills on infrastructure, social spending and voting rights. Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated on Thursday that House committees would soon turn to negotiations with the Senate to move the China competition legislation toward a vote.When the bill passed the Senate by a wide margin in June, it was sold in part as a jobs plan and in part as a move to avoid leaving the United States perilously dependent on its biggest geopolitical adversary.China is not yet a major producer of the world’s most advanced chips, and it does not have the capability to make semiconductors with the smallest circuits — in part because the United States and its allies have blocked it from purchasing lithography equipment needed to make those chips.But Beijing is pumping vast amounts of government funding into developing the sector, and it is also flexing its military reach over Taiwan, one of the largest manufacturers of advanced chips. China accounted for 9 percent of global chip sales in 2020, barely trailing the global market share of Japan and the European Union, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. That was up from only 3.8 percent of global chip sales five years ago.At the World Economic Forum this week, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, announced plans for Europe to propose its own legislation early next month to promote the development of the semiconductor industry and to anticipate shortages.John Neuffer, the chief executive of the Semiconductor Industry Association, said Japan, South Korea, India and other countries were also introducing their own incentives in a bid to attract a strategically important industry.“The clock is ticking,” Mr. Neuffer said. “None of us are working in a vacuum. This is a global industry.”Mr. Biden’s push to enact the China competition bill comes amid growing frustration in corporate circles with his economic policies toward the country. Executives have complained that the administration still has not clarified whether it will lift any of the tariffs that President Donald J. Trump placed on China or how it will press Beijing for further trade concessions.How the Supply Chain Crisis UnfoldedCard 1 of 9The pandemic sparked the problem. More

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    U.S. Effort to Combat Forced Labor Targets Corporate China Ties

    The Biden administration is expected to face scrutiny as it decides how to enforce a new ban on products made with forced labor in the Xinjiang region of China.A far-reaching bill aimed at barring products made with forced labor in China became law after President Biden signed the bill on Thursday.But the next four months — during which the Biden administration will convene hearings to investigate how pervasive forced labor is and what to do about it — will be crucial in determining how far the legislation goes in altering the behavior of companies that source products from China.While it is against U.S. law to knowingly import goods made with slave labor, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act shifts the burden of proof to companies from customs officials. Firms will have to proactively prove that their factories, and those of all their suppliers, do not use slavery or coercion.The law, which passed the House and Senate nearly unanimously, is Washington’s first comprehensive effort to police supply chains that the United States says exploit persecuted minorities, and its impact could be sweeping. A wide range of products and raw materials — such as petroleum, cotton, minerals and sugar — flow from the Xinjiang region of China, where accusations of forced labor proliferate. Those materials are often used in Chinese factories that manufacture products for global companies.“I anticipate that there will be many companies — even entire industries — that will be taken by surprise when they realize that their supply chains can also be traced back to the Uyghur region,” said Laura Murphy, a professor of human rights and contemporary slavery at Sheffield Hallam University in Britain.If the law is enforced as written, it could force many companies to rework how they do business or risk having products blocked at the U.S. border. Those high stakes are expected to set off a crush of lobbying by companies trying to ease the burden on their industries as the government writes the guidelines that importers must follow.“Genuine, effective enforcement will most likely mean there will be pushback by corporations and an attempt to create loopholes,” said Cathy Feingold, the international director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. “So the implementation will be key.”Behind-the-scenes negotiations before the bill’s passage provided an early indication of how consequential the legislation could be for some of America’s biggest companies, as business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and brand names like Nike and Coca-Cola worked to limit the bill’s scope.The Biden administration has labeled the Chinese government’s actions in Xinjiang — including the detention of more than a million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities, as well as forced conversions, sterilization and arbitrary or unlawful killings — as genocide.Human rights experts say that Beijing’s policies of moving Uyghurs into farms and factories that feed the global supply chain are an integral part of its repression in Xinjiang, an attempt to assimilate minorities and strip them of their culture and religion..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-1kpebx{margin:0 auto;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1kpebx{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1gtxqqv{margin-bottom:0;}.css-1g3vlj0{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1g3vlj0{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-1g3vlj0 strong{font-weight:600;}.css-1g3vlj0 em{font-style:italic;}.css-1g3vlj0{margin-bottom:0;margin-top:0.25rem;}.css-19zsuqr{display:block;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}In a statement last week, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that Mr. Biden welcomed the bill’s passage and agreed with Congress “that action can and must be taken to hold the People’s Republic of China accountable for genocide and human rights abuses and to address forced labor in Xinjiang.” She added that the administration would “work closely with Congress to implement this bill to ensure global supply chains are free of forced labor.”Yet some members of the administration argued behind closed doors that the bill’s scope could overwhelm U.S. regulators and lead to further supply chain disruptions at a time when inflation is accelerating at a nearly 40-year high, according to interviews with more than two dozen government officials, members of Congress and their staff. Some officials also expressed concerns that an aggressive ban on Chinese imports could put the administration’s goals for fighting climate change at risk, given China’s dominance of solar panels and components to make them, people familiar with the discussions said.John Kerry, Mr. Biden’s special envoy for climate change, and Wendy R. Sherman, the deputy secretary of state, separately conveyed some of those concerns in calls to Democratic members of Congress in recent months, according to four people familiar with the discussions.Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida and one of the bill’s lead authors, criticized those looking to limit its impact, saying that companies that want to continue to import products and officials who are reluctant to rock the boat with China “are not just going to give up.” He added, “They’re all going to try to weigh in on how it’s implemented.”A solar farm near Wenquan, China. The Xinjiang region’s substantial presence in the solar supply chain has been a key source of tension in the Biden administration.Gilles Sabrié for The New York TimesOne reason the stakes are so high is because of the critical role that Xinjiang may play in many supply chains. The region, twice the size of Texas, is rich in raw materials like coal and oil and crops like tomatoes, lavender and hops; it is also a significant producer of electronics, sneakers and clothing. By some estimates, it provides one-fifth of the world’s cotton and 45 percent of the world’s polysilicon, a key ingredient for solar panels.Xinjiang’s substantial presence in the solar supply chain has been a key source of tension in the Biden administration, which is counting on solar power to help the United States reach its goal of significantly cutting carbon emissions by the end of the decade.In meetings this year, Biden administration officials weighed how difficult it would be for importers to bypass Xinjiang and relocate supply chains for solar goods and other products, according to three government officials. Officials from the Labor Department and the United States Trade Representative were more sympathetic to a far-reaching ban on Xinjiang goods, according to three people familiar with the discussions. Some officials in charge of climate, energy and the economy argued against a sweeping ban, saying it would wreak havoc on supply chains or compromise the fight against climate change, those people said.Ana Hinojosa, who was the executive director of Customs and Border Protection and led the government’s enforcement of forced labor provisions until she left the post in October, said that agencies responsible for “competing priorities” like climate change had voiced concerns about the legislation’s impact. Companies and various government agencies became nervous that the law’s broad authorities could prove “devastating to the U.S. economy,” she said.“The need to improve our clean energy is real and important, but not something that the government or the U.S. should do on the backs of people who are working under conditions of modern-day slavery,” Ms. Hinojosa added.In a call with Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California this year, Mr. Kerry conveyed concerns about disrupting solar supply chains while Ms. Sherman shared her concerns with Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, according to people familiar with the conversations.Mr. Merkley, one of the lead sponsors of the bill, said in an interview that Ms. Sherman told him she was concerned the legislation was not duly “targeted and deliberative.” The conversation was first reported by The Washington Post.“I think this is a targeted and deliberative approach,” Mr. Merkley said. “And I think the administration is starting to see how strongly Republicans and Democrats in both chambers feel about this.”A State Department official said that Ms. Sherman did not initiate the call and did not express opposition to the bill. Whitney Smith, a spokeswoman for Mr. Kerry, said any accusations he lobbied against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act were “false.” Ms. Pelosi declined to discuss private conversations.Nury Turkel, a Uyghur-American lawyer who is the vice chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said the United States must “tackle both genocide and ecocide.”“Policymakers and climate activists are making it a choice between saving the world and turning a blind eye to the enslavement of Uyghurs,” he said. “It is false, and we cannot allow ourselves to be forced into it.”Administration officials have also argued that the United States can take a strong stance against forced labor while developing a robust solar supply chain. Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said that Mr. Biden “believes what is going on in Xinjiang is genocide” and that the administration had taken a range of actions to combat human rights abuses in the region, including financial sanctions, visa restrictions, export controls, import restrictions and a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics in February.“We have taken action to hold the P.R.C. accountable for its human rights abuses and to address forced labor in Xinjiang,” Ms. Horne said, using the abbreviation for the People’s Republic of China. “And we will continue to do so.”Farm workers picking cotton near Qapqal, China, in 2015. By some estimates, Xinjiang produces one-fifth of the world’s cotton.Adam Dean for The New York TimesThe law highlights the delicate U.S.-China relationship, in which policymakers must figure out how to confront anti-Democratic practices while the United States is economically dependent on Chinese factories. China remains the largest supplier of goods to the United States.One of the biggest hurdles for U.S. businesses is determining whether their products touched Xinjiang at any point in the supply chain. Many companies complain that beyond their direct suppliers, they lack the leverage to demand information from the Chinese firms that manufacture raw materials and parts.Government restrictions that bar foreigners from unfettered access to sites in Xinjiang have made it difficult for many businesses to investigate their supply chains. New Chinese antisanctions rules, which threaten penalties against companies that comply with U.S. restrictions, have made vetting even more difficult.The Chinese government denies forced labor is used in Xinjiang. Zhao Lijian, a government spokesman, said U.S. politicians were “seeking to contain China and hold back China’s development through political manipulation and economic bullying in the name of ‘human rights.’” He promised a “resolute response” if the bill became law.Lawmakers struggled over the past year to reconcile a more aggressive House version of the legislation with one in the Senate, which gave companies longer timelines to make changes and stripped out the S.E.C. reporting requirement, among other differences.The final bill included a mechanism to create lists of entities and products that use forced labor or aid in the transfer of persecuted workers to factories around China. Businesses like Apple had lobbied for the creation of such lists, believing they would provide more certainty for businesses seeking to avoid entities of concern.Lisa Friedman More