General Counsel Kelly Welsh Travels to Beijing and Wuhan, China

GC Welsh travels to China

General Counsel Kelly Welsh traveled to Beijing and Wuhan, China, the week of January 12 to discuss how the United States and China can work together to promote commercial rule of law.

President Obama and Secretary Pritzker have repeatedly emphasized the importance of a commitment to a strong rule of law for promoting economic growth. General Counsel Welsh bolstered the U.S.-China dialogue by spending time with academics, legal professionals, the media, Chinese government officials, and U.S. business leaders.

In a speech at the Beijing American Center, General Counsel Welsh spoke to a large audience about the importance of a transparent, accountable, and predictable commercial legal system.

General Counsel Welsh said:

During my experience as a senior executive and general counsel for U.S. companies, I saw the link between a strong commercial rule of law and economic growth first hand. When deciding which countries to invest in, or to market our services in, the strength of a country’s rule of law was always a critical factor in our company’s decision-making.

General Counsel Welsh led the U.S. delegation for the 19th U.S.-China Legal Exchange, a longstanding public dialogue with China’s Ministry of Commerce under the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) Commercial Law Working Group.  Experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (an agency of the Department of Commerce), the Federal Trade Commission, and the private sector, presented to large public audiences at Tsinghua University and Wuhan University on topics of key concern to both the United States and China:  U.S. laws and policies on air pollution, and commercial cybersecurity and data privacy.

The General Counsel also met with Chinese government officials to discuss the U.S. approach to cybersecurity, including the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, and to urge China to enforce its laws criminalizing bribery of foreign public officials, to ensure that all companies compete on a level playing field throughout the world.

The General Counsel’s trip highlights the importance for Secretary Pritzker and the Department of Commerce of promoting strong commercial rule of law wherever U.S. companies do business. By promoting a strong rule of law, the United States and China can work together to create a global business climate that fosters growth and innovation.

CLDP Launches Power Purchase Agreements Handbook

The recently published “Understanding Power Purchase Agreements” handbook was highlighted as a major achievement of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative during the Power Africa Private Sector Partners Meeting on January 28 in Washington, DC. 

Power Africa is an initiative to increase the number of people with access to power in sub-Saharan Africa.  At the Private Sector Partners Meeting, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Power Africa Coordinator Andy Herscowitz noted the important role the handbook will play in promoting power projects.

The handbook — produced through a partnership between the Office of General Counsel’s Commercial Law Development Program and the African Legal Support Facility — features over a dozen leading power project contract experts from the US Government, African Governments, banks, development finance institutions, developers and law firms. The best practices guide is intended to provide a common understanding of the most important terms in Power Purchase Agreements, which are at the core of most privately-financed power projects. The book is available for download on the Commercial Law Development Program’s website.

Remarks of General Counsel Kelly R. Welsh at Beijing American Center

Remarks of General Counsel Kelly R. Welsh at Beijing American Center on January 13, 2015.

Click for full remarks in English and Chinese.

U.S. - China Transnational Bribery Dialogue

Deputy General Counsel for Strategic Initiatives, Dawn Yamane Hewett, speaking

On October 27th, 2014, Department of Commerce Deputy General Counsel for Strategic Initiatives Dawn Yamane Hewett and the Office of the General Counsel hosted the Fifth U.S. – China Transnational Bribery Dialogue under the auspices of the Ninth Joint Liaison Group Anti-Corruption Working Group (JLG ACWG), a bilateral law enforcement dialogue led by the U.S. Justice and State Departments. The U.S.-China Transnational Bribery Dialogue, first held in 2010, is a bilateral initiative aimed at fostering discussion and sharing best practices on transnational bribery laws and compliance, with a view to decreasing trade barriers such as bribery in international business transactions. The Chinese delegation was led by the Ministry of Supervision, and included representatives from the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Justice, as well as the People’s Bank of China.   Private sector representatives from business associations, U.S. companies, and law firms also participated in the dialogue and asked questions about the Chinese anticorruption campaign and China’s enforcement of its foreign bribery law.  The U.S. and Chinese government representatives agreed on the importance of fighting transnational bribery and working together to improve the international business environment for all of our companies.

Leading Our Team: The Office of General Counsel Senior Management Retreat

Deputy General Counsel Justin Antonipillai discussing Secretary's initiative

This year the Office of General Counsel hosted its yearly Senior Management Retreat at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The retreat started with an open and engaging conversation with White House Counsel, Neil Eggleston who discussed his experiences in the federal government and its utility in supporting the Obama Administration as White House Counsel.

In support of Secretary Pritzker’s “America is Open for Business” Agenda, the Office of the General Counsel hosted two panel sessions supporting Strategic Goals Two and Three, Innovation and Environment. One panel focused on the overall lifecycle of innovation and was led by Vikrum Aiyer, Deputy Chief of Staff for the United States Patent and Trademark Office and Gregory Godbout, Deputy Associate Administrator and Executive Director of 18F at the General Services Administration. On environment, the additional panel focused on the impact of climate change and the Administration’s response with guest speakers Brandi Colander, Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the Department of the Interior and Tom Karl, Director of the National Climatic Data Center for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Deputy General Counsel Justin Antonipillai discussed the Secretary’s vision on management, mentoring, and training at the Commerce Department

Power Africa: Power Purchase Agreements Consultation Workshop

Led by Nnamdi Ezera and Mohamed Badissy, The Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) held a Regional Stakeholders Workshop on Refining the Annotation of Africa Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) in Abuja, Nigeria. The program featured 70 participants, including government officials and representatives from power utilities, transmitters, distributors and regulators in West Africa. The program is a follow-up to a CLDP program in March 2014 to review and annotate the most heavily negotiated and disputed provisions of power project contracts. This second program aimed to gain much-needed government stakeholder perspectives and ownership of the annotated PPA. It was attended by the Nigerian Minister of Power and CEOs from the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, and the Africa Finance Corporation. Julie Wenah provided reflections from Secretary Pritzker’s West Africa Trade Mission and Trade and Investment Speech the previous month in Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria as well as the Administration's commitment to double access to power in Sub-Saharan Africa. Attorney-experts from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and international and Nigerian firms gave presentations on offtake obligations, power payments, force majeure, sovereign guarantees, and dispute resolution. The issues raised and the perspectives gleaned from the workshop will be the basis for potential power-market reform, and will be included in the final PPA Annotation tool.

U.S. Commerce Department General Counsel Cameron F. Kerry Delivers Final Policy Address at the German Marshall Fund of the United States

General Counsel Cameron F. Kerry at the German Marshall Fund of the United States

On August 28, 2013, General Counsel Cameron F. Kerry delivered a policy address at the German Marshall Fund on the international impact of privacy and security issues.  Please click the link for the remarks, entitled "The Impact of Privacy and National Security on International Commerce in the Digital Age."  The speech reflected on the work of the Commerce Department to sustain and promote the digital economy.  General Counsel Kerry described work on privacy legislation and international engagement and expressed concern that any step back from the US-EU Safe Harbor Framework would "set the trading relationship between the U.S. and EU backward...."

NIST, DOJ Form Commission to Develop Guidelines for Forensic Labs

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Department of Justice announced on February 15, 2013 the establishment of a National Commission to Develop Guidelines for Forensic  Labs.

The Commercial Law Development Program Assists the Egyptian Customs with Integrity Program Roll Out

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On January 9-16, the Commercial Law Development Program and the Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Administration held ethics training for Egyptian Customs Authority (ECA) officials in Alexandria, Port Said, and Cairo. The training supports the ECA’s implementation of a comprehensive integrity program, to include the adoption of Ethics rules and guidelines, as well as a plan to engage key stakeholders.  For further information on the program, see the CLDP website:

2012 Annual Office of General Counsel Awards Ceremony

On Thursday, December 6, 2012 General Counsel Kerry presided over the Office of General Counsel Annual Awards Ceremony.  He was joined by Acting Secretary Blank who delivered remarks, thanking the office for their tireless work over the past year.  The Acting Secretary acknowledged the great assistance that the office’s attorneys and support staff have provided to her and the entire Department of Commerce.

General Counsel Kerry detailed the broad range of accomplishments achieved by the OGC office over the past year.  He highlighted the successful litigation of the GPX case and efforts to move legislation through Congress as a result.  He also applauded contributions to various other litigation, legislation, reforms and regulation matters handled over the past year by each office within OGC.

GC Kerry and Deputy General Counsel Geovette Washington presented the Attorney of the Year Awards and the Support Staff of the Year Award.  The 2012 recipients are:

Attorney of the Year – Daniel Calhoun – Office of the Chief Counsel for Import Administration

Daniel was instrumental in insuring that Import Administration can, as a matter of domestic law, implement the WTO disputes on zeroing in a coherent process and has been a central player in disputes regarding antidumping and countervailing duty laws.

Support Staff of the Year – Stephanie Dyer – Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Administration, Ethics Law and Programs Division

Stephanie performed outstanding work in implementing a new financial disclosure report electronic filing system and the new reporting requirements of the STOCK Act, which were enacted earlier in 2012.