President-elect Joe Biden’s two top Commerce Department nominees are Rhode Island Governor, Gina Raimondo as Commerce secretary, and Don Graves as Commerce deputy secretary.  The nominees were announced Jan. 8 by Biden, who urged the Senate to quickly confirm the nominations. The need for Senate confirmation comes during a wave of current cabinet resignations including the acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf; who announced he would step down on Monday, Jan. 11.  

Biden praised the work ethic of both Graves and Raimondo calling Graves a “long time trusted adviser” and Raimondo “one of the most effective, forward-thinking governors in the United States of America”. According to the nominees, the U.S. needs to boost its manufacturing capabilities, invest in innovation, and increase their export competitiveness around the world.  

Policy Approach

Although the nominees did not discuss specific policy actions, Commerce is expected to continue many of the same export control and Entity List restrictions introduced under the current administration, especially against China. Multilateral efforts and cooperation with allies is expected rather than any dramatic policy changes around the agency’s export controls. It is likely that the Biden administration will take a coordinated approach toward China, inclusive of restrictions against Huawei.  

It is also possible that the Biden administration may cut down on some of Commerce’s recent measures related to the foreign direct product rule. This could include a May rule that increased restrictions on Huawei’s access to foreign-made items that incorporate a certain amount of U.S. technology.  

Other China-related policies are expected to continue, such as Commerce’s April rule that expanded due diligence requirements and license restrictions to military end-users (MEU) and for end-uses in China, Russia, and Venezuela. However, it is anticipated that commerce will provide clarity regarding who is a MEU. 

For further questions, please contact your Mohawk Global representative.